Fatal Fire Victims To Be Remembered On 10-Year Anniversary

By Dennis Phillips

dphillips@post-journal.com

FALCONER – The three children who died 10 years ago in a house fire near Falconer will be remembered once again next weekend.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, April 7, for Janel and Danielle Echard and William ”Billy” Seekings Jr. The three children died in a house fire April 1, 2003, while spending the night at their grandparents’ house in Poland. Penny Echard, mother of the children, said the memorial is open to the public.

”So many people were so supportive of us for everything that happened that we want it open to the public,” she said. ”We want to thank the community for all of their support, their donations, thoughts and prayers. It was overwhelming the amount of cards we received. It was card after card. It was phenomenal.”

Echard said the community’s support has been continuous during the past 10 years, and the family has appreciated all the well-wishers.

”The Falconer School District planted trees. The class of 2009 devoted everything to Billy, their yearbook, programs they put on and their homecoming. They showed us the kids were not forgotten.”

Echard said living butterflies will be released in memory of the children during the memorial. Plus, there will be progressive photos shown of the children and what they would look like today if they were still alive. Billy was 11 years old, Danielle was 6 years old and Janel was 4 years old when they passed away.

”I think the public would like to know what they would look like today 10 years later,” Echard said.

The Rev. Ron Lemon of Koinonia Christian Fellowship is helping the family with the memorial. Lemon said songs will be played, prayers and scriptures will be read, and people will be able to share their memories of the three children.

”I’m going to read their obituaries and share some of my memories,” Lemon said. ”There are going to be tributes from classmates of Billy. Ten years later, the memory and joy they brought us, we still miss.”

Lemon’s church was the one the children attended with their grandmother, Natula Echard.

Lemon said he believes the children are remembered so well today 10 years later because they showed how precious life can be for all.

”They show us their innocence, and that none of us are promised tomorrow,” he said. ”So we need to care now for the ones we love. They show us the value of human life.”

Lemon said he hopes the memorial is well attended so the family has a chance to thank the community.

”I know the family really appreciates everything the school, the community, the fire departments and the church did for them during a difficult time,” he said. ”This is a thank you from them to the community.”