One on the Ground is Karen Wielinski’s compelling memoir, based on her experiences resulting from the crash of Flight 3407 into her Clarence home. When her husband Doug died along with 49 passengers and crew he become identified as the “One on the Ground.”
February 12, 2009 was an ordinary evening at home for the Wielinski family of Clarence Center, New York. Karen said good night to her husband Doug as he left their family room. Minutes later her world and her home came tumbling down around her. This compelling memoir is the story of life before, during, and after an unthinkable tragedy.
Karen Wielinski is a freelance writer who has lived in East Aurora, New York since 2010. Along with the love of her daughters and grandchildren, her involvement in a local writing group continues to be a source of inspiration and strength to her.
(Times to be advised at a later date.)
Burchfield Penney Art Center
1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
Clarence Contemporary Club
23 East Ave., Lockport
Beta Gamma (Arcade)
80% of profits from the sale of One on the Ground go into the Douglas C. Wielinski Scholarship Fund. As a result of the support received from those purchasing the book, we were able to present three deserving seniors scholarships in June. For displaying a love of history, awards were given to: Clarence H.S. students, Anna Jafarjian and Andrew Kowalczyk. Anna plans to attend Binghamton University in the fall, majoring in Education, while Andrew plans on studying philosophy and political science at the University at Buffalo. It was also emotional for me to present our first scholarship to Buffalo’s Hutchinson Tech’s Samuel Alem. Doug was a graduate of Tech’s Class of 1965, where his focus was on chemistry. Samuel will continue his pursuits in the field of biochemistry at RIT. I congratulate and wish these students continued success, as they start new chapters in their lives.
It has been such an honor to travel around Western NY and bring the story of One on the Ground to so many wonderful people.
My talk at the Dog Ears Bookstore in South Buffalo turned into a night of surprises. For details on an unbelievable evening, check out my Author’s Blog.
Debora Reach & Karen at Dog Ears Bookstore.
The Women’s Education Delta Kappa Gama Sorority warmly welcomed me to their March dinner in Arcade, as did Donna Czora and her Lancaster Book Club members. Both groups made me feel like I was “one of the girls,” and it was especially interesting to receive feedback from the book club members. I also had the opportunity to exchange more ideas when speaking with the Cheektowaga Book Club.
Women’s Education Delta Kappa Gamma Sorority Dinner
Donna Czora of the Lancaster Book Club & Karen
The Twentieth Century Club on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo was an eloquent setting where 90 ladies enjoyed learning more about One on the Ground. This club was originally organized by women educators, who were not allowed entrance into men’s clubs. I could feel history unfolding before me in this gorgeous building, reflective of times past, and I hope I added my own history within its walls.
The Twentieth Century Club
It is always a pleasure to speak at libraries, and that continued with a visit to the Orchard Park Library in April. My childhood days were spent on the eastside of Buffalo, and I was touched when one of the women attending handed me an old postcard of my church on Genesee Street, St. Mary of Sorrows.
I travelled outside of Western NY to speak at a luncheon of the GFWC (Greater Federation of Women’s Clubs), NY State Convention in May. Author Marilyn A. Pellini also spoke about her book, “Dear Al,” which is a collection of letters she wrote to her husband, after his sudden death. Writing for both of us is so cathartic, and helpful in handling our grief. I closed the portion of my talk by reading my poem, “Sounds,” which is in One on the Ground. It also seemed appropriate as the afternoon speakers discussed Post Traumatic Stress Disorders.
A visit to Springville, NY introduced me to the Springville Single Theme Club, where we shared a delicious dinner at The Liberty restaurant. I appreciated that even the owners of the restaurant, waitress and busboy stayed to hear me speak.
Special thanks go to Karen Brady, a former Buffalo News columnist and book reviewer, for making arrangements for me to talk at the Boulevard Towers in May. It was definitely an afternoon of fellowship with a nice group of people.
My cat, Mia wants to remind everyone, that I have plenty of books remaining. I would love to meet more of you, so if you have an organization that would like to learn more about One on the Ground I hope to hear from you.
Mia promoting One on the Ground
It was an honor for me to have the opportunity to meet two talented writers recently: Mary Friona and Sean Kirst. I admire their work, and was thrilled when they both agreed to read One on the Ground. I thank Mary for including me in her website, Totally Buffalo on January 21st 2018, and Sean for not only writing about One on the Ground, but also giving homage to Rick Ohler and the East Aurora Writing Group in the January 21st edition of the Buffalo News. have always said that without Rick and the writing group, I would never have considered writing a book.
December 17th, 2017 turned out to be a very memorable day, as I was a guest speaker at a remembrance of the 150th anniversary of The Angola Train Horror. Originally when asked to speak, I was not sure what I could offer to such a gathering. But, they were asking me to speak as a survivor. For me, this was an entirely different approach to my talks about One on the Ground. Although, I often touch on how I became a survivor and how that affects my life, this was the first time my entire talk was based on that aspect of my life. I knew that reading the chapter, “Guilt,” would definitely have to be included in my presentation. The gathering took place in the historic Angola Theater, and the venue was packed. I was the third speaker, following historian Peter Walters, and Charity Vogel, author of The Angola Horror.
Emotions made me stumble somewhat during my presentation, but the audience patiently waited for me to compose myself, and I was able to continue. They responded to my talk with a hearty round of applause, and I even received some standing ovations—a first for me. I thank the committee who invited me, and to those attending, and those who purchased One on the Ground.
The summer has flown by, and One on the Ground is being introduced throughout Western New York and beyond. Locally, it has been a thrill to see it on the shelf at The Perfect Gift in Clarence Center, and also Barnes & Noble in Clarence. The book has traveled with me to the Adirondacks, where I had a chance to talk and sign books at the Keene Valley Library, and articles on the book have appeared in the Lake Placid News, Cincinnati Enquirer, and The Loveland Herald.
In July 2017, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Mission Hills Book Club in Hamburg, and was pleased that they followed up that event with a trip to Clarence Center for lunch and a walk to the Long Street Memorial. I am eager to discuss One on the Ground with several other book clubs in Clarence, Elma and Orchard Park this fall.
I am pleased to report that over $6,000 has been added to the Douglas C. Wielinski Memorial Scholarship Award since the release of One on the Ground in March 2017. Cash awards and a copy of the book were presented to Clarence High School seniors, Sean Kloss and Emma Raupp, at an awards ceremony in June 2017. I hope to expand the scholarship awards to include a student at Hutch Tech next year.
A private “writers” launch for One on the Ground took place on February 25th 2017. What better way to celebrate publication of the book than a gathering of writers — amateur and professional — along with my Librastream publishers, Sallie and John Randolph, and designer/creative team Leslie and Jeff Taylor of Buffalo Creative Group.
Many of the attendees were either my current or past classmates from Rick Ohler’s East Aurora creative writing classes. They provided support and encouragement as the pieces of this book were read week-after-week over the last few years.
Ed Drantch and Aaron Mason from WKBW also participated in the celebration. Ed helped announce the release of One on the Ground, with his wonderful segment that aired February 10th.
Buffalo News reporter Joe Popiolkowski, who had been supportive during the Long Street Memorial dedication and the trial, also joined us.
My daughters, Kim and Jess, were also on-hand to meet these creative people in my life, as was my cousin Jan Frappier, who has become one of my staunch writing critics.
Being surrounded by those who have guided and encouraged me during this book journey was both humbling and gratifying. It was a memorable afternoon.
Thanks to all those who attended the official book launch of One on the Ground, Monday, March 6th 2017. It was heartwarming to see more than 80 people attend the event. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, I believe almost everyone there can recall what they were doing and where they were on February 12, 2009. The audience was attentive as I spoke, and also was very interested in viewing the quilt made from remnants of Doug’s uniforms and running shirts, along with catalogs listing the items retrieved from the Long Street site.
I am told I signed books for over an hour, and I appreciated hearing so many peoples’ experiences of that tragic night. It is always amazing to learn how connected people are to the crash—either knowing our family or someone lost on the plane.
Special thanks to Library Director, Monica Mooney; the “Monkey See, Monkey Do,” staff who handled sales; the Clarence Friends of the Library for helping with refreshments (from Goodrich Coffee and Tea); Ann & Bill Chamberlin, who readily helped wherever needed; and my daughter Kim Lipiarz and her husband, Jeff, for being great family ambassadors and mingling so well with the group.
Doug loved to delve into history. Collecting allowed him to preserve the past, and he always loved the opportunity to share what he learned with others. He especially enjoyed bringing history to life for high school students by sharing his Viet Nam War experiences with them.
After the crash my daughter Lori said that since her dad had always loved history, it seemed only fitting that he was now a part of history.
The Douglas C. Wielinski Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in 2009 to provide assistance to students who have a genuine love of history. It is my hope that profits from the sale of One On The Ground will enable more students to benefit from this fund.
If you are so inclined to help in this effort, donations can also be sent to:
Thank you for considering to honor Doug in this way.
~ Karen Wielinski
Pick up a copy at one of our local bookstores! Currently in stock at these locations:
Profits benefit the Douglas C. Wielinski Memorial Scholarship Fund