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Wendy Sander, niece of flight attendant Ray Lang

Wendy Sander, from Massapequa, seen here in 1996,

Wendy Sander, from Massapequa, seen here in 1996, worked in TWA, the same airline company that employed her beloved uncle Ray Lang, who perished aboard the TWA Flight 800 crash on July 17, 1996. Credit: The Sander Family

Wendy Sander, 46

In 1996: Lived in Massapequa and was a TWA flight attendant

Now: Lives in Missouri and is a homemaker

In 1994 at age 24, Sander, then a nurse, was looking to switch careers when her uncle, Ray Lang, suggested she apply to the airline company where he had worked since 1976.

“He said, ‘Go here, they have a great interview process,’ ” she recalled.

The job ended up bringing them closer. Sander, who worked for TWA based out of Newark, said that her uncle protected her as if she were his own daughter. While they had never worked together on the same flights, she said talking about the places they had been and the work they shared bonded them further.

“Working together and sharing the common stuff about the job. . . . when you have that, you become closer,” Sander said.

Twenty years after her beloved world-traveling uncle died at age 51 in the TWA Flight 800 crash, much has changed in Sander’s life. Now living in Missouri with her husband, Mitch Sander, a pilot at TWA whom she met through a friend, she now has three daughters: Emily, 15, Rachel, 13, and Abigail, 7. Her grandmother Mildred, Lang’s mother, died in 2008 at age 98. And Sander left the airline industry in 2001 to care for her first child.

While saddened that Lang never met her daughters, Sander’s fond memories of her uncle remain strong: his passion for history books and novels, his love of gardening, his dancing along with the family’s African gray parrot and, most of all, his warm sense of humor.

“He touched everybody with his humor, his outgoingness,” she said. “It was a humor that would make you feel better about yourself. He was very good at making people feel better about themselves.”

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