Mrs. York's Cake Goes to Washington
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 18, 2001 Janet Nesslerodt, 31, said, "You're crazy," when her mother, Judy A. York, told her she was going to make a two-foot by-four-foot cake decorated with an American flag and drive it from Kearneysville, W. Va., to the DoD Family (Casualty) Assistance Center here.
York's excitement rubbed off on her, though, and she and her son, Michael, 6, helped deliver the huge cake.
Wesley A. Babcock shows his niece, Kaitlyn Rowenhorst, 3, the huge American flag cake Judy A. York made and delivered to DoD's Family (Casualty) Assistance Center in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 16. The next day, the Defense Department confirmed that Kaitlyn's father, Army civilian employee Edward. V. Rowenhorst, 32, had been killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"I didn't help her make the cake, I just helped her bring it here," Nesslerodt said. Daughter no longer thinks mother is crazy.
"I think what she did is wonderful, and more people should do something like this," Nesslerodt said. "Just because you might not personally know someone who was affected by this tragedy in your family or among your friends, as a country, we're all affected by it. This is just Mom's way of doing something to show that people care."
"We didn't have a family member down here, but everybody is grieving for those who have lost people," York said. "Making the cake is just something to let people know that others are thinking about them, and, even though it's not our family, we're going through the sorrow with them."
York initially had planned to make the cake four times larger, but logistics got the better of her. She went to two-by-four so it would fit in her car for the two-hour drive from Kearneysville to Arlington and the Pentagon.
A supermarket donated some of the ingredients and a bakery in Walkersville, Md., chipped in a keg of icing. York bought the rest.
York said she's called the "Cake Lady" in town. "I've been baking since I was 16 years old," said the 52-year-old super baker. "I make cakes for everybody -- wedding cakes and all kinds of cakes. I just do it for people because I enjoy doing it."
Her late husband wasn't a military man, York noted, adding "I think my future grandson-in-law will be pleased about the cake." She was referring to her granddaughter's fianc, Seaman Sean Jenkins, 21, a sailor aboard the Navy destroyer USS Deyo in Norfolk, Va.
While delivering her first cake, York offered to make a second, for the Pentagon crash site workers. A Salvation Army officer told her to deliver it to the Family Assistance Center and he would ensure that it reached the workers.
With a broad smile, Judy York returned home to bake another huge cake to show everybody that someone cares.