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Oklahoma Tornadoes Take Father, Son

May 14, 2003

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Jane Kitchens was sitting silently next to the hospital bed where her father lay lifeless, a victim of a recent tornado, when she remembered her grandfather’s similar death more than 50 years before.

Leonard Kitchens, 80, died Sunday after he hit his head on a doorjamb while taking cover from the tornado that ripped through the city Friday night. He was the only person killed in the storm.

His father, Harry, was killed in a May 31, 1947, tornado after he was hit by the doors on his storm cellar.

``It is very strange, but that’s a tornado for you,″ Jane Kitchens said Tuesday. ``They just do some really weird things.″

Last week’s almost 400 tornadoes set a record for the number of twisters in the United States during a single week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.

Jane Kitchens’ parents survived Oklahoma’s deadliest tornado: an April 9, 1947, twister that killed 107 people. They were newly married and survived unscathed in a basement apartment.

Leonard Kitchens, a retired oil field construction worker, was staying with his daughter Friday night when the tornado hit. He hit his head on the doorjamb as he took shelter from the storm, but initially seemed fine. He complained of shoulder pain and later vomited. At the hospital he fell into a coma and never woke up.

He will be buried after a funeral Thursday. The family remembers him as a witty man who loved photography and word puzzles.

``He was a very kind, loving man,″ said Peggy Kitchens, who is married to Leonard Kitchens’ son Mike. ``He took good care of his kids and grandkids. We’ll miss him.″

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