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Friends bid farewell to flight attendant

(ran LT, ET editions of National)

At a memorial service for TWA flight attendant Michael Schuldt, a childhood friend described him as a man who loved life and worked hard to maintain friendships.

The more than 400 people who packed Moss-Feaster funeral home's Sylvan Abbey chapel on Friday were evidence of that. Schuldt died July 17 aboard TWA Flight 800.

"He had a wonderful ability to live life to the fullest," said Patrick Hughes, who grew up next door to Schuldt, 51, in northwest Detroit. "I feel so fortunate and blessed to have shared life in countless ways with him."

The attendees, many of them dressed in navy and white TWA crew uniforms, spent almost two hours hugging, crying, sharing stories and laughing as they remembered Schuldt, who lived in Safety Harbor with his wife, Judy, a teacher at Sutherland Elementary School.

"Every time I take the time to really savor a beer, I'm going to hoist it and say "I love you man,' " said Bill Ford, a former TWA flight attendant who worked with Schuldt. "And I'll hear him say "Sure, but you can't have my beer.' "

Others told stories of late-night poker games, harmonica sessions and dart competitions.

"Boy, did he love Paris," said one flight attendant who had flown the New York-to-Paris route with Schuldt. "I remember being led through the streets of Paris with Michael in the lead with nothing but the address of some great restaurant he read about."

Schuldt's brother, Steve Schuldt of South Lyon, Mich., said Schuldt's body was recovered from the wreckage off East Moriches, N.Y., and arrived in Tampa on Tuesday. He said TWA had assigned two crisis counselors to assist Schuldt's family.

"There were three words we never said to each other," said Steve Schuldt after leading the group in a rosary. "So if I can say them now, I'd like to: "I love you, Mike.' "