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Memorial service held for couple killed in head-on collision

August 9, 2018

Family and friends gathered at the Chinese United Methodist Church of San Antonio on Thursday to remember a San Antonio couple who dedicated their lives to sharing their faith and knowledge.

More than 160 people filled the sanctuary to celebrate the church’s pastor, Chengju Huo, 52, and his wife, Huixiang Zhang, who were killed last week in a head-on collision on a remote road in West Texas. The couple and their 17-year-old son were traveling in a 2015 Ford Escape on Texas 158 when a 2018 Chevy Cruze drifted into their lane.

Their 17-year-old son, David Newman Huo, sustained serious injuries in the crash, but is expected to make a full recovery.

The driver of the other car, Taron Gipson, 22, of Calvert died in the accident.

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The family was on vacation, heading to Yellowstone National Park.

People stood on the outside aisles of packed pews for the memorial service that was conducted in English and Mandarin.

Friends and parents from Alamo Heights High School comforted David Huo as the congregation sang hymns and read Bible passages in honor of his parents.

Before the service, the Rev. John Lee, 55, said his friend’s passion was to spread the Gospel and his wife shared the same enthusiasm for her mission.

“She just expressed it differently as a middle school teacher,” he said. “She was a sweet lady. She cared for people.”

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In July 2016, Huo became pastor of the church that belongs to Las Misiones District of the Rio Texas Annual Conference. Lee helped Huo get his license to pastor at the church that has a congregation of 25 to 30 people.

Huo grew up in Hubei, a province of the People’s Republic of China.

He was a reporter before he received his calling to the ministry, friends said. He practiced his faith by meeting clandestinely at people’s houses and found a way to get a visa to study at a seminary in the United States.

Lee said his friend was meticulous, bypassing past short cuts, and always insisted on doing things the right way.

Glenn Smith, a friend of the Huo family since 1998, pledged that he and his family would always be by David’s side.

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