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Texas Churchgoers Mourned After Crash

October 18, 2003

ELDORADO, Texas (AP) _ Kennith and Betty Richardson died just the way they lived _ together. Married for 58 years, the World War II veteran and his wife were never far apart. Even while she sang in the choir at the First Baptist Church, he would sit in the front row.

``That’s about as far away as they ever got,″ the Rev. Andy Anderson said at the first of three funerals held Friday at the West Texas church after a bus crash that killed eight senior citizens.

Five of the victims of Monday’s crash were members of First Baptist; the others were friends of members and lived in nearby towns.

``Today, our hearts are heavy with sadness and sorrow that seem to have no reason,″ Anderson told the 300 mourners packing the church.

The driver of the church bus apparently fell asleep, and the vehicle slammed into a parked tractor-trailer on the shoulder of a highway in northeastern Louisiana.

Seven others aboard the 16-day tour of historical sites in the South and the East were injured.

The Richardsons, both 81, had lived in Eldorado since 1960.

The second funeral was for Mary Ruth Robinson, 63. She was remembered for her work in the church nursery making clothes for children.

Her husband survived the wreck with injured hands and scrapes on his face, said Mrs. Robinson’s aunt, Louella Yates.

``He said, ’I don’t understand why,‴ Yates said. ``I told him, ’Some things can’t be understood.‴

The final service was for Domingo Pina, 65, and his wife, Delia Pina, 72. They were married for 44 years and were active in community service.

He was a volunteer firefighter and worked with the Boy and Girl Scouts; she was a retired nurse who served on the local hospital board.

The other crash victims were Jean Demere, 74; LaVerne Shannon, 76; and Jimmy Teel, 68. Services were held at their churches Thursday and Friday.

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