PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

January 22, 2013

Slain hostage Lovelady described as family man, level-headed

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — The family of slain hostage Victor Lovelady sat together on a couch and faced a multitude of media persons with digital and video cameras, lap top computers and note pads on Tuesday.

Mike Lovelady and his wife Wanda — Victor’s brother and sister-in-law — along with Victor’s daughter Erin, addressed the media just three days after learning from the FBI that Victor Lovelady was identified as one of the hostages who lost his life at an Algerian gas facility.

Neither Victor nor his family thought he was ever in any danger, both Mike and Erin Lovelady said.

“He honestly wasn’t concerned about his safety and that really bothers me now. I believe he was blind-sided,” Erin Lovelady said.

On Monday, the State Department confirmed that gas workers Victor Lynn Lovelady and Gordon Lee Rowan were killed at the Ain Amenas field in the Sahara. U.S. officials identified Texas resident Frederick Buttaccio as the first death last week, according to the Associated Press. Lovelady was a native of Nederland and had lived in Houston for the past two years.

Militants who attacked Ain Amenas had offered to release Lovelady and Rowan in exchange for the freedom of two prominent terror suspects jailed in the United States: Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind sheik convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks and considered the spiritual leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist convicted of shooting at two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration rejected the offer outright.

Erin Lovelady doesn’t believe her father would just sit around and do nothing while the facility was being bombarded.

“He was a very smart man, very level-headed,” she said. “If there was a way he could get out, he would. He wouldn’t be the person crying and screaming and begging. He’d be calm.”

Victor Lovelady is described a family man who went out of his way to help others and a man who was excited to be in Africa.

“He loved Africa,” Erin Lovelady said after telling of her father’s hunting trip overseas. “I don’t know why, he just felt something there.”

Mike Lovelady recalled times when his brother would help elderly people with their ceiling fans and was a whiz with electronics while Erin remembered a recent phone conversation between her father and brother, Grant, in which Victor laughed out loud at the sight of camels running in the desert.

“I could tell him anything. Not many daughters can tell their dad everything,” she said. “The fact that I could call him when I was upset or call him if I was happy or I if needed guidance. I can’t do that any more.”

When asked who’s to blame for the death of Victor, Mike Lovelady said he blames the terrorists.

He believes things might have been different if Algeria had allowed U.S. or British special forces to take over the operation while sparing the hostages.

“We feel it could have been handled differently,” he said. “Yea, we’re angry, but we’re not going to let it affect my faith in God.”

Signs of the family’s deep-rooted faith was evident in the neat Nederland home — framed words of comfort such as “When in doubt, pray” and “With God nothing is impossible.”

There are still many unknowns surrounding the death of Victor Lovelady, something the family is trying to come to grips with. Both Erin and Mike wish Victor had died in a  different way, a car wreck perhaps, instead of a continent away under strange conditions.

They also worry he suffered.

“That unknown will always bother me,” Erin Lovelady said.

Right now Mike Lovelady’s goal is to find out how his brother died.

“Three Americans died there and my brother was one of them. Terrorists and Nederland, Texas, should not be in the same sentence,” he said. “I want to know how my brother died. I don’t want to see his body if,... I want closure.”

An autopsy will be performed when Victor Lovelady’s remains are returned to the U.S. so that final identification can be made. Dental records have also been submitted, he said.

Family members don’t know exactly when Victor Lovelady’s body will be returned to the U.S., only that it will be brought in through Dover Air Force Base the sent to Southeast Texas.

Victor Lovelady is also survived by his wife, Maureen, a daughter, Erin and a son, Grant.

“We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers and ask that you continue in prayer for our family as we mourn the loss of Victor,” he said.

An account has been established at FivePoint Credit Union for Victor Lovelady. For more information, visit any FivePoint location.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews