Sad Moments as Victims Are Laid to Rest
A glimpse at some of the funeral services held Monday for victims of the Oklahoma City bombing:
Army Sgt. 1st Class Lola Bolden, 40
A glorious smile. That’s what members of the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion remember most about Sgt. 1st Class Lola Bolden, 40. As they bid farewell to their colleague and friend, they again saw Ms. Bolden’s smile _ in a wood-framed photograph perched gently atop her casket, which was draped with an American flag.
``She was serious; she was down-to-business. But she had a great smile,″ said Maj. Ronald Bain, who worked with Ms. Bolden on the fourth floor of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. ``The most precious commodity was her smile.″
About 75 relatives, friends and colleagues gathered in the small chapel of a funeral home east of downtown. Ms. Bolden’s two sons and daughter, ages 11, 13 and 22, sat in the front pew, cradling each other and crying as their mother was remembered.
``She takes with her a part of our battalion and a part of the Army family,″ Bain said.
``She was a sister soldier. She was a valued member of our unit,″ said recruiting command chaplain Carlton Harper.
The service began with a solemn and soulful rendition of ``What A Friend We Have in Jesus.″ But it was another hymn, sung by Ms. Bolden’s cousin, Ida Bolden, that caused one young soldier to pull out a handkerchief and dab his eyes.
``I’m just another soldier,″ she sang. ``I’m on my way home.″
Ashley Eckles, 4
Friends and family walked to the front of Seward Road Baptist Church, gazing at the two dozen bouquets ringing Ashley Eckles’ small white casket, and spoke of their memories of the 4-year-old.
Ashley was the ``flower of the family,″ an aunt said, while a friend recalled her love of hugging and hot dogs.
Many of the 300 mourners overflowing the church in rural Seward, Okla., broke into tears as slides chronicling Ashley’s short life were flashed on a wall of the sanctuary while Willie Nelson’s rendition of ``Amazing Grace″ rang through the church.
The slides showed Ashley proudly holding a Barbie doll Christmas gift, playing on a swing set and posing in a ruffled white hat.
Luther and LaRue Treanor, the parents of Ashley’s stepfather, were with Ashley when the bomb exploded. They were still missing in the ruined building.
``I’m so grateful that Grandma and Grandpa were with her. Can you think of two better escorts to heaven?″ said the Rev. Rex Haymaker.
Even as the 45-minute service got under way, dozens of folding chairs were set up to seat mourners. Haymaker said the child would have been pleased by the crowd.
``She’s very happy looking down and seeing all her friends and all these beautiful flowers,″ he said.
Cynthia Lynn Campbell Brown, 26
Last month, 26-year-old Secret Service agent Cynthia Brown was married in Grace United Methodist Church in Sherman, Texas. On Monday, hundreds of mourners packed the church for her funeral.
Mrs. Brown was sitting in her office on the ninth floor of the federal building when the bomb went off.
During the hour-long funeral, Mrs. Brown’s brother, Ray Campbell, read a poem and called his sister ``one of the best friends I ever had.″
``I know she loved all her classmates,″ he said. ``She was really proud she was a Secret Service agent.″
Married on March 11 to fellow agent Ron Brown, Mrs. Brown had been hoping to be transferred near her husband, who was stationed in Phoenix.
Eljay Bowron, director of the Secret Service, recalled swearing in the Browns as new agents just over a year ago.
``When Cindy was asked in her initial interview what she knew about the Secret Service, she responded by quoting from memory the entire statute (that created the agency).″ Bowron said. ``We were all very impressed.″
A native of Rantoul, Ill., Mrs. Brown grew up in Sherman. She was a juvenile probation officer in Grayson County before becoming a Secret Service agent.
``She was my children’s age,″ said a family friend, Pat Dannel. ``She was just a beautiful young woman, very cute growing up. She was one of those people that everybody loved.″