Memorials honor 7 who perished in tornado

By Katie Siebenaller

        In the wake of destruction left by the tornado that ripped through Wood County on June 5, 2010, area communities and residents were left with the task of rebuilding.
        For some, life would never be the same.
        “Buildings could be rebuilt. Schools could be rebuilt. But we could never replace those seven people,” said Lake Township Administrator Mark Hummer of the seven lives lost because of the tornado.
        Together with architect Jeff Norman, Hummer and Lake Township’s fire chief, trustees and the fiscal officer worked to construct a memorial outside of the new township administration building, in honor of the seven who were gone too soon:
        •Bailey Bowman, Walbridge.
        •Kathleen Hammitt, Woodville;
        •Ted Kranz, Millbury;
        •Hayden Walters, Millbury;
        •Mary Walters, Millbury;
        •Ryan Walters, Millbury;
        •Irwin Welling, Lake Township.
        (Names are listed in the order of passing, which coincidentally is in alphabetical order.)
        The base of the memorial was constructed from bricks of the old Lake Township Administration Building, pointing in the direction of the tornado’s path.
         “A concrete ‘V’ is in the middle, angled at 65 degrees, representing the month and date [of the tornado]: 6-5,” Hummer explained.
        Behind the memorial, large fiberglass columns represent each victim lost: seven in all. The group of three represents the members of the Walters family: Mary, Ryan and their son, Hayden.
        “The pillars are 20 feet high and 10 inches apart,” Hummer adds. Combined, the dimensions of the pillars nod to the year no one will forget.
        “You can’t get into the building without going past it, without remembering those seven lives lost. We made a commitment early on that we would do everything to build this building by the first anniversary of the tornado,” Hummer said. “Rebuilding is a form of healing.”
        On June 5, 2011, exactly one year after the tragedy, hundreds gathered at Friendship Park for a community-wide prayer service, followed by the dedication of the memorial and unveiling of the new administration building.
        On June 6, 2012, a memorial service was held to mark the second anniversary of the tornado. The service was held at Millbury Veterans Memorial Plaza. A new gazebo, and a headstone that has the names of the seven people killed by the twister, were unveiled to the public. In addition, live doves were released in memory of the victims.


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