Memorial Special for Tyler NASA Family - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/04/04 - Tyler

Memorial Special for Tyler NASA Family

   Tuesday's shuttle memorial was special for Billie and Ken Ruether. Their son, Jim, is a NASA astronaut, and the Ruethers mourned as part of NASA's extended family.

   "With everything they do," Billie says, "There's just a close-knit feeling and they don't have to put it into words."

   Billie watched Tuesday's memorial while wearing a special hat and shirt in honor of astronaut Michael Anderson, whom they befriended through their son. They haven't spoken to Jim since the crash, but they understand he is busy with NASA's recovery.

  "He needs to be doing what he's doing," Billie says. "I know he'll get back to me when he can. I'm proud he's so dedicated that he would put 24 hours a day into what he is supposed to be doing."

   Even in the aftermath, they understand their son's dream of becoming an astronaut, and support him.

   "I have not worried about it when he's been up," Billie says. "This is something he wanted to do, he had to work very hard to be appointed to NASA."

   Just like the rest of the country, a mother and father took a moment to mourn for heroes, and for their extended family.

   "It really got to me," she admits. "At one point, I had to go get a kleenex. It was very, very impressive and very beautiful."

   "Hopefully," she says, "I'll never have to go through it."

   Reid Kerr, ( rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.

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