On July 17, 1996, Justice For All lost its immediate past president, founding member and driving force, Pam Lychner. Pam and her two young daughters were killed in the crash of TWA Flight 800 in New York. This is an inconceivable loss. Please remember Pam, her daughters and her family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. Our best way to honor Pam is to continue, with unfaltering gait, down the path she set us on.
On July 17, 1996 the world lost a remarkable woman. Pam Lychner was the driving force behind the organization Justice For All, founded in the summer of 1993 in Houston, Texas. Pam was herself a victim of an attempted sexual assault and narrowly escaped her attacker when her husband
Joe arrived at the scene.
Pam lived in fear for two years following the attack. When she was notified about her attacker's first parole hearing after such a short time in prison, she contacted the City of Houston's Victims' Assistance Office. Through this contact she met JFA's current president Dianne Clements who had lost a child to gun violence. When Pam's attacker sued her, she got mad. She began speaking with other crime victims and after hearing about the efforts of several Hollywood-types to get convicted murderer Gary Graham off of Texas' death row, Pam became angry that no one ever mentioned Graham's victims or his long and violent criminal history.
With Pam's leadership, they organized a series of rallies and were stunned at the support the community showed and at the number of Graham's victims who heard about their efforts and contacted them. In June of 1993, after several brutal crimes in the Houston area, Pam,
Dianne and others helped to form Justice For All, to remind people about the victims of violent crime.
In just three years, JFA has grown to include 3500 members, with chapters in Reno, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Philadelphia and more chapter inquiries every month. JFA has been responsible for important victims' rights legislation that has passed in Texas. JFA members were responsible for a new Department of Corrections policy allowing victims' families to view executions, Habeas Corpus reform law, curtailment of Texas' "good time" policies for inmates, averting a policy to allow inmates access to telephones, curtailing inmates lawsuits against victims. Victims are now allowed to address their perpetrators after sentencing in many Texas courts. Pam personally provided "court support" to many, many victims of violent crime, attending trials with them, helping them know what to expect and speaking to the media on their behalf during the trials, which can be the second worst time in their lives.
In July 1997,
Pam was taking her two daughters, Shannon and Katie, on a whirlwind vacation trip to France, to see some of the world. Shannon had admired a bridge in a book of Monet paintings and Pam decided to take her to France and show her the real thing. Although she excelled at activism, Pam's true calling was as a wife and mother extraordinaire. She was very active in her children's lives, participating in all of their activities. Her family came first in her life, even with all of her other duties, responsibilities and commitments. Friends have called the girls "Pam's shadows" as they were always with her. Joe spoke with Pam just before she boarded the plane. The plane crashed into the ocean and these wonderful people were ripped from our lives like a page torn from a book.
Shannon was 10 years old. She was a piano player, a swimmer and the quiet one. Shannon had a generous, loving, gentle spirit and her father Joe said "I always knew she would be the one to take care of me in my old age." Shannon would frequently argue with her father about who loved the other more. She finally came up with a topper, saying "I love you all the way around the world, up to Jesus and back." Shannon had just taken up painting and was particularly taken with Claude Monet's watercolors. Pam wanted to take the girls to Monet's home so they could see what inspired the master firsthand. The girls were frequently present at JFA picnics and booths during festivals and made friends wherever they went.
Katie was 8 years old and excelled at soccer and softball. Katie could run faster than many of the boys in her class and had them all impressed because of this. Katie was affectionately called "The Determined One".
At the memorial service Joe told a story about Katie that illustrated this very well. When she was around 4 years old and just learning to swim, she participated in a race with the other children in her class. When the starting gun went off, all the children jumped in the water and started swimming to the rope and back....except for Katie. She stood in the starting position, arms thrust out behind her and seemed unable to jump in. She finally jumped in the water and swam to the rope as the other children were returning to the wall. When she reached the rope, she hung on the rope instead of turning around. Joe went to the side of the pool and said, "It's okay Katie, come on over here." Katie said, loudly, "No!" and let go of the rope and swam back to the wall, long after the others had finished. When she emerged from the pool it was to a thunderous reaction from the parents on the bleachers, all impressed with her
determined spirit. When Katie walked over to where Joe and Pam were sitting, she said "I don't know why, but I always get the most applause!"
Left behind are husband and father, Joe Lychner of Houston, Texas; Pam's parents Wayne and Betty Rogers of Aurora, Illinois; Pam's sisters Lori Musselman and Jan Brenkus and many other grieving relatives and friends.