Hundreds pay tribute to family killed in storms

March 9, 2007

Baker County -- Hundreds of family and friends said goodbye to a Baker County family. Daron Owens, his wife Phyllis, and their daughter 13-year-old Kursty Thomas all died in a tornado that ripped through their home.

Family and friends cried as they paid their last respects to the family of three. Now they say that family is finally home, and while people we spoke to will miss their loved ones, they also have a reason to rejoice.

It was hard to say final goodbyes to a family that touched so many. One by one mourners did just that before taking their seats at Thankful Baptist Church. The funeral opened in prayer and in song.

Relatives and others who knew the family say it's really a time to celebrate because the family is now with the Lord.

"To everybody, that's the ultimate journey, to see your Father," said Daron's first cousin Cedric Johnson.

The congregation praised their Father in Heaven for keeping the Owens with him. A family that will be missed by many. Like the hundred or so co-workers from Wal-Mart, who worked with Daron and Phyllis.

"We knew both of them. Everything about them will be truly missed," said Robi Isler.

Kursty Thomas was the first person Heather Bodiford met when she moved here. She says she'll always keep a picture of her best friend close by.

"I'm going to miss her joking around, and her being played with, and her friendship," said Heather Bodiford.

Together the Owens family made friendships with everyone. Many people stood during the hour-long funeral, and several sat in an overflow room, watching from a TV.

The family was carried one by one from the church for burial. But it's only and Earthly burial according to family because they know right where their loved ones are.

"Up with the good Lord, definitely," said Johnson.

And it's that strong faith that will keep this family alive in the hearts of many.

Following the funeral, the three were buried at New Salem Cemetery in Elmodel, Georgia. Up to 700 people came to pay a final tribute to the family.