MADISON -- Colleagues at Madison's Doyenne, a nonprofit company that helps female entrepreneurs succeed remembered their co-founder Amy Gannon as an unforgettable leader that "didn't back down." Gannon and her 13-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, passed away in a helicopter crash in Hawaii Thursday, Dec. 26.
"She just lit up a room and her presence was known," Heather Wentler, Doyenne's co-founder, told WMTV. "When she was talking to you, you really felt like you were the only person in the world at that moment."
Jasmine Timmons, another colleague at Doyenne, told WMTV Gannon was unforgettable.
"You met Amy and you just remembered her randomly because her energy was just that electrifying," said Timmons.
Colleagues said Gannon's vision was to develop female entrepreneurs and change the way they were represented in Madison.
"Madison has been named one of the top communities for entrepreneurship across the nation, and I really believe it’s because of the work Amy has done, not just within Doyenne, but through her various other roles and opportunities," Wentler told WMTV.
WMTV reported Gannon also served on the faculty at Edgewood College for nearly 10 years. They received a statement from Edgewood reading as follows:
"The Edgewood College community is heartbroken by the loss of longtime faculty member and former Interim Dean Amy Gannon. Gannon and her daughter, Jocelyn, were among the people killed in a tragic helicopter crash in Hawaii on Thursday."
“Amy was such an energetic and positive presence on our campus for many years,” Mary Ellen Gevelinger, O.P., Interim President, told WMTV. “Her work empowering women with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for excellence both in and out of the classroom are her lasting legacy. Our prayers today are with her family and all who loved her.”
Gannon served as interim dean of the School of Business for two years.
"At Edgewood College, we remember the words of Meister Eckhart at difficult times like this," said Gevelinger. "He wrote, 'There is no pain or sorrow which comes to us that has not first passed through the Heart of God.'"
Meanwhile, students and families were notified by the Madison Metropolitan School District that one of the victims was a Hamilton Middle School student. Jocelyn Gannon was an eighth-grader at the school, according to MMSD spokesman Tim LeMonds.
Hamilton Middle School families received the following Saturday, Dec. 28:
"Dear Hamilton Middle Community,
"It is with heartfelt sadness that I write to you to let you know of a tragedy in our Hamilton Middle community. One of our Hamilton eighth grade students, Jocelyn Gannon, along with her mother Amy passed away unexpectedly Thursday, in a helicopter crash in Hawaii."
"Our community has lost a wonderful young person, and a family is experiencing immeasurable loss. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Jocelyn’s family. We ask that you keep Jocelyn’s family, friends and our Hamilton community in your thoughts, and that you respect the privacy of the Gannon family at this time."
"I want to let you know that our Hamilton support team is connected and working with members of our MMSD Central Offices to develop a plan of support for our community, including how we will support students in the aftermath of this tragedy. As a beginning point of connection, we will be opening our Hamilton school library to students and families Monday, 12/30, from 11-1pm, to provide a space for people to gather in support of each other. In addition, a support team will be available when school resumes on January 6th for students who continue to want and need smaller environments to discuss this loss and associated emotions."
"As individuals, we all have our own ways of coping with bereavement, and for many of our students this could likely be their first experience with this type of loss. Please talk with your child about Jocelyn’s passing, and seek appropriate help if needed. Please know that we are here to support you. If you are concerned about your child, please feel free to contact us at Hamilton for assistance."
There were no survivors in the helicopter crash that killed three minors and four adults, officials confirmed Saturday. The helicopter was set to tour the rugged Na Pali Coast, the picturesque and remote northern shoreline of Kauai that was featured in the film “Jurassic Park."
The remains of six people were recovered Friday and the seventh was missing. Kauai police confirmed there were no survivors based in part on the nature of the crash and impact damage, officials said in a statement. Recovery efforts were suspended Saturday afternoon.
There were six people from two different families and a pilot on the flight.
In a statement Saturday, police said the flight manifest listed the pilot as Paul Matero, 69, of Wailua, Hawaii. Two passengers were named as 47-year-old Amy Gannon and 13-year-old Jocelyn Gannon of Wisconsin. Amy Gannon’s friend Dorecia Carr said Gannon’s death would rattle the city of Madison.
“She is very important, I mean she owns a huge business in Madison that helps so many people,” Carr said. “The city is going to be really shaken.”
Carr also said Gannon mentored her 17-year-old son AJ Carr, adding that when she didn’t have enough money to move to allow her son to pursue his acting career, Gannon put up the money for them to go. AJ Carr has appeared in “Chicago P.D.,” “This Is Us,” and “All American.”
“She did so much. She paid for us to leave Madison because she believed in him,” Dorecia Carr said. “So much happened because of her. This is a huge loss.”
Carr said Gannon’s husband and son were not on Thursday’s flight and were still in Hawaii.
The four other passengers, including two girls who were 10 and 13 years old, were believed to be from Switzerland, police said.
The helicopter company, identified as Safari Helicopters, contacted the Coast Guard on Thursday evening after the tour did not return to the airport as scheduled.