"He was wonderful. We talked about baseball, and I asked him why he never returned a letter I sent him. At the age of 10, I had a picture of myself with President Kennedy on UPI (news wire). My parents didn't believe me when I told them I met him until the reporter called them.
"After he died, it seemed like everything changed. It created an empty feeling in me. He was my first hero."
--Timothy Cooley, 40, president and chief executive officer of Partnership 2010, a think tank for Orange County businesses
"A fellow worker heard about it in his car and came in to tell us. He was a fellow quite adept at practical jokes. . . . At first, we didn't believe him. Then he started to cry. Tears came down his face. Then we knew it was true."
--Seal Beach Councilman William J. Doane, who was working as a data processing manager at Market Basket in East Los Angeles when he heard the news
"I was in the gym locker room at Santa Ana High School getting ready for PE. I was 17 and someone said the President was shot. I guess we all felt hurt and numbness. Everybody was shocked to realize that the President could be shot.
"Last November I went to look at his grave in Washington. You look at his grave and wonder what next President will be like him and surpass him. There's a part of his speech inlaid in stone--'Ask not for what your country can do for you. . . . ' He taught us that you can give, that your country is a community. That's what he meant to me."
--Zeke Hernandez, past state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens and a Santa Ana management consultant
"I was in Seoul, Korea, working for an adoption program with many American missionaries. That day everybody was crying. People were so sad. Korean people liked him. Even today you still see families with pictures of him in their houses.
"He worked for everybody, not just certain groups. He had a philosophy that not just government works for you--you work for government."
--Wendy Yoo, vice president of the Korean Assn. of Orange County and the Korean-American relations counselor at Garden Grove Hospital and Medical Center
"Normally, you get two bells when an important story came over the wires (in the newsroom of the Columbia Missourian at the University of Missouri) but this time there were three bells and the Teletype just went dead and there was an eerie silence in the newsroom that is normally buzzing with noise. . . . We all gathered around and the first words appeared: 'The President was shot in Dallas.' "
--Linda Mook, 50, journalism adviser and publisher of the Corona del Mar High School newspaper, the Trident.
"I know exactly what I was doing. Everyone knows, don't they? I was grinding valves on a '51 Chevy in Pharr, Tex. . . . seven miles from where Oswald crossed the border . . . two weeks before.
"My neighbor came out and told me and I said it was a terrible thing to say. I didn't believe her. I think I was 18 at the time. It gives me chills just to think about it. Texans really took it hard that it happened there."
--Barbara Horn, Orange County Sheriff's Department office assistant
"I was in my seventh-grade biology class at Willard Junior High School in Santa Ana, and I remember the announcement coming over the class intercom, the principal announcing that President Kennedy had been assassinated. The class obviously came to a stop, but it seemed as if the world stopped too."
--Irvine attorney Christopher B. Mears
"I was in biology lab in high school, fifth period, and we heard it over the intercom. You just couldn't believe it had happened--even when you were watching the news on TV--until it became undeniable.
"I think ever since his death, it has been harder for me to be hopeful about some aspects of American public life. I was of such an age, and he meant hope to me in so many ways, that for him to die in such a wasteful way meant that it was hard for me to see things as hopefully again."
--Stephen Wolfe, assistant U.S. attorney in Santa Ana
"I was leasing cars for George Cashman, who owned the Lakers at the time. I'd just leased a Pontiac to a guy. I walked back to the office (in Lynwood), feeling real good. I'd just closed the deal. Someone was sitting there and the guy says John Kennedy was just killed. I felt like crap. All of us did. I was about 25.
"It was very gloomy. In fact, we all went home. We tried to work, but it was not one of those days that anybody wanted to work.
"Everything almost came to a halt. To me there were two days that we all remember: When John F. Kennedy died, and when Elvis died. In my generation, those were the two days we could never forget."
--Buck Rodgers, manager of the California Angels