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Lauren Bessette Presumed Dead

July 19, 1999 GMT

GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) _ Lauren Gail Bessette, a financial executive who passed through New York City’s crowded streets without the attention given her younger sister, was killed in a plane crash with her sister and John F. Kennedy Jr.

Ms. Bessette, 34, was killed Friday night with her sister, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, in a plane piloted by Kennedy, her sister’s husband.

The executive was lesser known than her glamorous sister Carolyn and brother-in-law, who was known across the world.

``She was a beautiful girl, incredibly smart, one of the smartest people I have ever met,″ said college friend Taylor Greene, choking back tears. ``She taught me a lot. She was always helping people to improve and be better at what they do.″

Greene and other friends from college, her New York business office, and even as far back as high school remember Ms. Bessette as a brilliant, driven young woman with an almost photographic memory, a generous spirit and a dry sense of humor.

``Lauren was truly one of the most beloved and admired members of our investment banking group,″ said Jeanmarie McFadden, spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. ``She was a warm, dynamic, vivacious and fun-loving person, full of spirit and life.″

Ms. Bessette, who had worked for the Wall Street investment house for eight years, was promoted in December from vice president to a principal in the investment banking division. She had specialized in Asian financial markets and worked in Hong Kong until about a year ago.

Ms. Bessette and her twin sister, Lisa Ann, were the first children born to Ann and William Bessette. Carolyn, 33, was 14 months younger than the twins.

The couple divorced when the children were young. Their mother, a teacher and administrator, remarried a few years later. Ms. Bessette and her sisters were raised in Greenwich by her and their stepfather, Dr. Richard Freeman, an orthopedic surgeon.

Friends said Ms. Bessette was extremely close to twin sister Lisa.

High school friend Abby Crockett Tuttle recalled that Ms. Bessette was eager to help others as a member of the Signettes, Greenwich High School’s public service club. She played bingo games with the elderly once a week, sang in nursing homes at Christmas, helped started the community’s first recycling program and tutored the mentally handicapped.

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After graduating from high school in 1982, Ms. Bessette attended Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y. She majored in economics but also studied political science and psychology. She graduated in 1986, having been granted membership in Omicron Delta Epsilon, the college’s economics honor society.

From there, Ms. Bessette moved to New York, where she joined Morgan Stanley as a financial analyst. She left in 1989 to earn her degree in business administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and then rejoined Morgan Stanley in the company’s Hong Kong office.