Crash of Flight 5191

‘It’ll feel better when it quits hurting’

White linen handkerchiefs were placed in the chairs of Larry Turner’s wife, two daughters and son before his funeral, because at times like these people forget the things they’ll need the most.

They were placed there by Rebecca Hatton, guest services director at Southland Christian Church. She then put 75 individual mini-packs of Kleenex in the chairs set aside for the rest of Larry Turner’s extended family. “Do you know how I knew how to do that?” Hatton said. “Because somebody did it for me when my mom passed away.”

Over the weekend, she will do the same thing at least twice for the families of victims of Flight 5191. Over the next week, three or four more victims will be mourned at Lexington’s largest church.

Last Sunday, we were a state in shock. We are now a state in mourning.

In Stanford, there were Marines in dress blue uniforms folding the American flag that had draped the casket of Clark Benton. The funeral procession that carried Benton and his wife, Bobbie, to Buffalo Spring Cemetery had crept past Gilliland Flower Shop, which had lowered its flag to half-staff, past the gray antique Farmall tractor parked in front of Saufley Implement Co., past Coleman’s Drug Store.

Turner and the Bentons were laid to rest yesterday, five days after dying in the crash at Blue Grass Airport. Services also were held for Flight 5191 Capt. Jeffrey Clay at Grace Fellowship Church in Florence. His body will be flown to his hometown of Vineland, N.J., for burial.

Seven more victims of Sunday’s disaster will be remembered at services around the area today. On Sunday, another funeral in Stanton, another in Somerset, another in London. On Monday, four more in Lexington, one each in London, Richmond and Flemingsburg.

Area florists have spent a week of preparing special flowers for stricken families. They’ve used every imaginable flower in stock and filled special requests -- an arrangement in Florida State University burgundy and gold for one family; delivering an arrangement to a local bar in remembrance of a customer who came in daily at 4 p.m. Now, working through the weekend, they turn to preparing memorial wreaths and casket sprays.

Lexington Cemetery, normally closed on Labor Day, is unperturbed by the long hours.

“The families have already waited a week,” cemetery president Daniel Scalf said. “It is more important that they can bury their loved ones when they wish than worry about us having a day off.”

Funeral directors have hired part-timers to work long hours this coming week. At W.R. Milward Funeral Home, limousines are being rounded up from as far away as Barbourville to help with family transport. The city’s oldest funeral home also had to rent a limousine it had sold just last month, said Jim Palmer, funeral associate for Milward.

It is not business as usual even where the business is funerals. Solomon Van Meter, owner of Whitehall Funeral Home, said he finds himself constantly worrying about the smallest details for one on Monday.

He is burying Michael Ryan, the wife of one his dearest and oldest friends.

Yesterday, a slow caravan left Southland Christian for the long ride to Larry Turner’s Indiana hometown and the place he learned to farm with his father, Roy. It’s a town called Rising Sun.

Wayne Turner, speaking at his brother’s service, said Roy often told his sons that there is always hope if you keep your eyes on the horizon.

His father’s words will have special resonance all week in the Bluegrass.

Said Roy many times: “It’ll feel better when it quits hurting.”

That may be a while. As Judge Tim Philpot, who eulogized Turner, told the gathering of 1,200: “We’ve lost 49 people. We’re weeping for our own friend, Larry, but we are weeping for Lexington. We are weeping for Kentucky.”

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