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Church members mourn Tennessee couple, preschoolers killed in tornado

The Taylor family sat close together Sunday at the Pleasant View Church of Christ near Bradford, Tenn. Three-year-old Kyle and his brother, Tyce, 5, had come just like always with their parents, Brad and Tanya, to worship with the 100-member congregation in the Skullbone Community. That same night, a tornado churned through the town of 1,100 people, killing the beloved young family – along with three of their neighbors. To honor the Taylors’ closeness as a family, they were to be buried Thursday in a single grave in the church cemetery across the street from the building.
Most of the deaths occurred in two northwestern Tennessee counties, where 24 people died and 82 were seriously injured as thestorm cut a path through that area. Entire communities nowbear the marks of a twister that plowed a line one mile wide and 25 miles long.Homes. Churches. Businesses. Schools. Many damaged or destroyed. Almost allneeding repairs or rebuilding.

Joe Dudney, executive director of Churches of ChristDisaster Relief Effort in Nashville,said this week that emergency food and supplies were on the way to areas hardesthit.
“Contact is being made now with several areas in Tennessee and Kentucky,”Dudney said Monday. Donations may be made online at http://www.disasterreliefeffort.org/.
Volunteers from Freed-HardemanUniversity in Henderson, Tenn.,are also responding, spokesman Josh Woods said. The tornadoes touched downabout an hour northwest of the university, he said.
“We have groups of students, faculty and staff making dailytrips to offer help in some of the devastated areas,” Woods said.
For the Taylors’ relativesand extended church family in nearby Gibson County, the loss isalmost overwhelming. Brad Taylor’s father, Larry Taylor, also is a member atPleasant View and owns the local funeral home. In the days leading toThursday’s memorial service, he grieved the loss of his youngest son,daughter-in-law and only grandchildren even as he prepared for their memorialservice.
Bradley Taylor, 28, and Kyle Taylor were to share onecoffin; Tanya Barron Taylor, 29, and Tyce, another.
Larry Taylor told TheTennessean that he last spoke to his younger son by telephone 10 minutesbefore the storm hit. The family’s hillside home was taking a beating fromgolf-ball-sized hail. So was the family’s pickup truck.

Afterward, Larry Taylor couldn’t reach his son by phone, so he tried to driveover. Trees and downed power lines blocked the way, rendering the main routeuseless. After three hours twisting through back roads, the worried fatherfinally made the three-mile trip, only to find his son’s home leveled by thestorm.
“It basically took my life away,” Larry Taylorsaid. “I’d give everything I had for that not to have happened. Those little boys were my life.”
Larry Taylor’s other son, Tim, is the fire chief for thecity’s 30-member volunteer department. Though Tim Taylor also lost his home inthe storm, he was among those searching Sunday night for the family. Theirbodies were discovered hours later about 800 yards from the spot where they hadbeen huddled together inside their large home.
Coy Hathcock, minister at Pleasant View since 1992, told The Tennessean that he would try andoffer mourners some hope at Thursday’s memorial. On Sunday, one week after somuch heartbreak and devastation, he plans to preach about faith.
“I will tell people to feed off their faith and starve theirdoubts,” he said.
Pleasant View elders Rufus Lowery and Ray Capps rememberedBrad Taylor as an avid outdoorsman and hard worker. Both had known the localplant worker since he was a young boy and remembered how he liked to coon huntand how proud he was of his family, according to The Jackson Sun.

Churches and members in Kentucky, Arkansas and Illinois also were hammered by the storms. Softball-sized hail was reported near the Marmaduke, Ark., church, and tornadoes chewed through the roof in splaces. Trees, power lines and debris littered the street in front, and 80 percent of the town was estimated to have been severely damaged in the storm.

April 6, 2006

Filed under: National Staff Reports

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