Daughter remembers kindness of dad who died in Algeria attack

By Dan Wallach

NEDERLAND — The daughter of a Houston engineer killed in a terrorist attack at a remote Algerian gas plant remembered her father Tuesday as a kind man in whom she could confide.

Erin Lovelady said she last saw her father, 57-year-old Victor Lovelady, at a family Christmas celebration while he was home from Algeria between assignments.

The plant in the southeastern Sahara Desert is near Mali, where French forces recently have battled militants with links to Al Qaeda who launched the attack on the gas plant last Wednesday.

“I got him a man’s bracelet,” Erin Lovelady said through tears as she sat next to her uncle, Mike Lovelady, Victor’s older brother. “I had to show him how to put it on by himself.

Erin Lovelady, her uncle and aunt sat on a couch in Michael Lovelady’s small Nederland home, crowded by television cameras and reporters.

Meanwhile, State Department officials said at a Washington briefing Tuesday that they have no reason to believe any Americans died in the Algeria attack except the three already identified–Lovelady, Frederick Buttaccio of Katy and Gordon Lee Rowan of Sumpter, Ore.  Seven Americans survived, said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

U.S. authorities had kept the Lovelady family members aware of information about the attack from the time it started. They learned Saturday that Victor Lovelady, likely was among the hostages who were killed as Algerian forces retook the gas plant.

He worked for a contractor for BP, which was one of the site’s three operators.

Mike Lovelady said he got a call at 3 a.m. Monday providing more details on his brother’s death.

His body still is in Algeria and will be transported to the United States through Dover, Del., a U.S. military installation that also receives military dead from American overseas combat.

The family doesn’t know when that will be, but said Lovelady’s funeral will be at St. Charles Catholic Church in Nederland.

Victor Lovelady leaves his wife of 33 years, Maureen; Erin, a teacher and softball coach in Longview; and son Grant, a student at Texas State University in San Marcos.

An account for Victor Lovelady’s family has been established at Five Point Credit Union and donors may visit or call any Five Point location to help.

Erin Lovelady said her father took the job in Algeria not for the expectation of more pay, but to earn more extended off time to spend with his family.

The family had been looking forward to a monthlong vacation in Belize this summer, his daughter said.

She said her father had felt “100-percent comfortable” going to Algeria.

“It was never about the money,” she said. “Never. He was safe. He wasn’t the kind of man who would jump out of airplanes.”

— Harry R. Weber contributed to this report from Houston