Retired Illawarra school teachers Michael and Carol Clancy were on board flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine with the loss of all 298 people on board.
Mrs Clancy’s daughter Jane Malcolm told the Mercury the Kanahooka couple, aged 57 and 64, were among more than 28 Australians on the Malaysian Airlines aircraft, which is believed to have been struck by a surface-to-air missile.
Ms Malcolm said her mother and stepfather had gone on a three-week trip to Europe to celebrate Mr Clancy’s retirement.
Due to his health problems, they had even saved up to pay for first class tickets on the ill-fated flight.
‘‘They posted a few pictures of their trip and how much fun they were having ...''
‘‘They were ecstatic to be going – it was a very big thing for them to be doing – it was such an outlay and an expense because it was so hard for them to travel,’’ Ms Malcolm said.
‘‘When I spoke to mum at the airport, she was just so excited to be going.
‘‘They posted a few pictures of their trip and how much fun they were having, I supposed we won’t get the rest of them.’’
Ms Malcolm said she and her brother Andrew realised the couple could have been on flight MH17 when she saw news of the crash on Friday morning.
‘‘I checked the itinerary, and saw it was them,’’ she said.
‘‘Then one of my uncles had it confirmed that they had checked in, and Malaysian Airlines confirmed they had been on the passenger list.
‘‘It just doesn’t seem real.’’
She said both Mr and Mrs Clancy – formerly Carol Malcolm – had been much loved teachers who were ‘‘genuinely always around to help people’’.
‘‘Mum was the kind of person who was always worried about everybody else,’’ she said.
‘‘They weren’t leading a rocking lifestyle, and they were just the last people to be involved in any kind of conflict which makes it even more difficult to believe what’s happened.’’
She said their deaths would be felt throughout the Illawarra as both had long teaching careers.
‘‘There’s a lot of fully grown people wandering around who would have been taught by my mother or my stepfather,’’ she said.
‘‘Disability teaching was one of my mum’s specialities – she was always doing something or volunteering for something.’’
Albion Park Public School students and staff were in shock on Friday afternoon when they were told their beloved former deputy principal Mr Clancy was on board the flight.
In a note to parents, principal Glenn Daniels said the school community’s thoughts and sympathy were with their family and friends.
Friends and colleagues of Mr Clancy said he was an outstanding man and teacher who was much loved by his students.
Many of the couple’s friends took to Facebook to share their grief.