Friday, October 07, 2005

After-Rita funeral

Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

Mourners say their goodbyes before a memorial service at the Universal Church of the Living God in Beaumont on Friday, Oct. 7, 2005. Five family members died of carbon monoxide poisoning while the family's generator was operating inside a building as they slept after Hurricane Rita hit the area.

Rev. Curtis Johnson of Sunlight Baptist Church speaks during a memorial service at the Universal Church of the Living God in Beaumont. Three children and their aunt died on Sept. 25, 2005.

Dianna Lynn Bean, 26; Crystal Monique Farve, 12; Demarcus Marquise Bean, 9; and A'Aliyha Monae Reese, 7, died on the day they were found in the apartment. Emery Charles Reese, 9, clung to life in a Houston hospital until his birthday on Sept. 28.

1 comment:

L'Tunya Bernard said...

My name is L'Tunya C. Bernard and I am a fourth grade teacher at Lucas Elementary, where Crystal, Demarcus, Emery, and A'aliyah attended school. The deaths of these children are devastating to say the least, but are even more heart wrenching to those of us who knew, taught, and loved them sincerely.

I have fond memories of Crystal, who was destined from the first day I met her to be one of my all time favorite students. Crystal had a hypnotic smile with beautiful dimples. She was a student I claimed as a "diva-in-training." She was always willing to help in the classroom, even if it meant missing physical education. Crystal was not only helpful to me in the classroom, but also to her peers who adored her. Anyone who knew Crystal would have surely known that her bonds of friendship were everlasting. Crystal would sit on top of her feet in class making her appear to be taller than she actually was. She talked with her friends during class and often made suggestions during the class science experiments. Even when reprimanded for talking she still would smile that million-dollar grin, and say, “Yes ma’am Ms. B.” Before school in the mornings she would come to hug me as she passed to go to her homeroom class. She would always do a queenly wave like Princess Diana when she’d pass me in the hall on her way to lunch. Once Crystal left Lucas to go to Smith Middle School she would tease my son, Jordan, who was an eighth grader at the time. She’d say, “What you doing Jordan? I’m gone tell your momma!” then pop him in the back. When my son saw her picture on television during a broadcast of the memorial service held at the school, he was miserable to discover that she had passed away. He fell onto the sofa deeply crying over the lost, he felt what I am certain all of the children who had known these four loving children felt; a loss that I can hardly put into words. He said, “Not that Crystal, I can't believe you were talking about that Crystal,” and he cried.

This school year I had the pleasure of teaching the second of these siblings, Demarcus Bean. He was a little different from Crystal because he was so quiet in class. I could barely here his responses when I asked him questions. He listened attentively in class, and I believe he was still trying to get a good feeling for his new teachers, while changing classes with four teachers for the first time. I would liked to have gotten to know him better. But one thing I do know about Demarcus, as well as Emery and A’aliyah, is that they could really run. They all were on their class track teams for our school’s annual track meets. Crystal and our coach were always very proud of them.

Emery was a great student with leadership potential. This year he was nominated by his homeroom teacher to run for class representative on the school’s student council. I had just met him for the first time a couple of weeks before we were evacuated for Hurricane Rita, and he had prepared a speech and poster for his campaign. He was scheduled to present this speech on the day our city was evacuated for the storm. Unfortunately that speech was never made, and we’ll never know how great a leader he might have become.

A’aliyah Reese was a precious angel. She only knew me as her big sister’s teacher, and would say, “Hey Ms. Bernard,” and smile every time she saw me in the hall, or if I had to go to her classroom for something. Her teacher and friends will surely miss her for years, just as I remember the death of one of my elementary classmates.

I sincerely wish that you had pictures of these children as they are in my memory, so that people could remember them for who they were and not as the victims they became.

Although they are gone from our site, they will never be absent from our hearts: Crystal Farve, Demarcus Bean, Emery Reese, and A’aliyah Reese.

May God’s blessings of Peace and Love continue with all who read this and may he grant you good understanding, for his way is not our way, and his thoughts are not our thoughts.


L’Tunya C. Bernard
4th Grade Teacher
Lucas Elementary