March 9, 2007
Baker County -- A family of three are laid to rest after losing their lives in a deadly tornado last week. Hundreds of family and friends gathered at Thankful Baptist Church in Baker County to pay their respects.
It's a sad reality this community is slowly coming to accept. Three of its own are no longer with us; a 40 year old father, a 36 year old mother, and a 12 year old daughter, remembered for their individual personalities, and the lives they lived before the storm.
Family and friends arrived an hour early to get a seat. They gathered at Thankful Baptist Church off Highway 91 to pay tribute to three lives gone too soon.
"One thing about it, God don't make any mistakes." Matilda Jackson was the cousin of Phyllis Owens. She's overwhelmed by the support of the hundreds who packed the small church in support. "Because we like a family, we truly are like a family."
Joellen Taylor worked with Daron and Phyllis at Walmart. They joked every morning when showing up for work. "I used to tell her don't let these girls make you a bad girl now. And she would holler back, 'Ms. Joe they back here trying to make me a bad girl.'"
Phyllis worked in the bakery. Daron worked in the meat department. Some 100 Walmart employees said they had to be here. "Yes. It wouldn't be right if we didn't." one of them told us.
The extended family joined with the Owens' biological family made for a standing room only funeral service. Relatives are thankful. "It's a lot of love. A lot of love," one said.
Daron and Phyllis married in 2000. He was from Dougherty County, Phyllis was from Baker County. She attended Meadows College, majoring in Nursing. Their Daughter Kursty, was better known as Le-le. She was a cheerleader.
The family is being buried together at the New Salem Cemetery off Highway 216 in Elmodel.
They lived in a mobile home off a dirt road near Pretoria Road in Baker County. Their trailer and everything in it was blown yards away. Their neighbor Ronald Graham knew the family well. He says Daron would stop by often as he worked in the yard. "Down inside, I just knew it was bad. I lost both of my neighbors and God knows it hurts. It hurts. Daron would stop by here often and talk to me when I'm working in the yard."
Graham says he could hear a lot of commotion the night of the tornado. He says it's hard to believe he lives off the same road as the Owens did, yet his home only suffered minor damage. He offers his condolences to the family.