Flight Attendant Who Inspired 'Final Flight' Dies From Cancer

LouAnne Alexander flew for 34 years, died from pancreatic cancer this week.

ByGILLIAN MOHNEY
April 07, 2016, 1:45 PM
PHOTO: LouAnn Alexander died this week just eight weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
LouAnn Alexander died this week just eight weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Courtesy Layne Salvo

— -- A Southwest Airlines flight attendant, whose brother shared her story on a "final flight" this week, has died due to pancreatic cancer, according to her family.

LouAnn Alexander was a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines for 34 years and loved it, according to her daughter Layne Salvo.

"She looked forward to every trip," Salvo told ABC News. "She loved being able to encounter all the passengers."

Alexander was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February of this year, according to Salvo. She died Monday, exactly eight weeks after her diagnosis.

Her brother, Rex Ridenoure, wrote that the disease progressed quickly and she soon became too ill to fly. He wrote a moving post about turning his business trip on a Southwest flight last month into an impromptu "last flight" for his sister.

"I asked a flight attendant two seats away who was also waiting to board whether there might be some of those little plastic Southwest Airlines wings on the plane,” he wrote.

“'Yes,' she said. 'What do you plan to do with the wings?'”

“'Well,' I replied, 'my sister is one of you -- a Southwest flight attendant -- and she's very, very ill. I'll be seeing her very soon and thought that bringing her a few pair of wings from me and the crew might help her feel better. She never got a chance to say goodbye to the flying she loved so much.'"

The flight attendant knew his sister, Ridenoure said, and after he was on board he was allowed to say a few words about her.

"I was allowed to stand up at the head of the aisle under a spotlight and, using the intercom phone briefly summarize who I was, who you were LouAnn, your desire since a little girl to be a flight attendant, your SWA flying career, what transpired during the previous 6 weeks or so, etc.," he wrote.

Passengers also agreed to write notes to Alexander –- Ridenoure said he received 96 messages of support and even a hand knit hat for her.

Salvo told ABC News her mother loved flying and was touched by the gesture from the "final flight" crew and passengers.

"I don’t think she could fully take in every single gesture, but she was able to appreciate everything as a whole," said Salvo. "It was very humbling for her and for all of us."

Ridenoure wrote in his post that, after LouAnn's death on Monday, her love for the airline and for flying has been honored on multiple flights. Flight attendants have asked for prayers for the family or have taken pictures of the flight in her honor.

He posted pictures from several of the flights.

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