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Hospital remembers lost patients

December 05, 1999

Book of MemoryBy JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: YVETTE MAY / staff photographer




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - When people lose loved ones, it can seem taboo to talk about the loss, but it is important to keep alive their memories, the Rev. Wayne Rimmer said Sunday.

Rimmer addressed about 75 local residents at Bethel Pentecostal Assembly of God on Tavern Road Sunday afternoon during a memorial service held for family and friends of City Hospital patients who died July through October.

The hospital and its chaplains sponsored the service, which has been held for 10 years, said Rose Straley, director of volunteers at City Hospital.

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The memorial service, which is held three times a year, rotates among the churches of the 15 member ministers, Straley said.

"I think it's wonderful. I think it's a peaceful closing," said Juanita Burke, who attended the service with her daughter to remember her father. George William Webber, who had had a stroke, died July 24.

It was the second time the family has attended the service. They first went when Burke's mother passed away.

"It's a nice way to remember your loved one," said Burke's daughter, Melissa Burke, 25, of Kearneysville, W.Va.

Many people don't know the hospital and its chaplains hold the service until they receive an invitation in the mail.

"When I got it, I bawled, but I also was very tickled and honored," said Debby Smith, 42, of King Street.

Smith attended Sunday's service for her mother, who died Aug. 12 from kidney failure, a complication of diabetes.

Smith said the ceremony was a "beautiful way to honor everyone."

"It brought up good memories and I could feel the pain of losing her," but also that she was now with God, Smith said.

Inwood, W.Va., residents Jennifer Cross, 22, and Brad Hutchinson, 23, attended the service because they lost their infant son, Donavin Shane Cross, 10 minutes after he was born.

While the service helped, Cross said it didn't "hit as close to home" because they didn't have time with their son to build the memories that many loved ones do.

Employees at City Hospital made the couple a book about Donavin. It contains pictures, his footprints, locks of hair, a birth certificate and his identification bracelets, Cross said.

At Sunday's service, the names of each of the 69 people being remembered was read from the "Book of Memory," which family members and friends scanned at the end of the ceremony for the name of their loved one.

Rimmer told family and friends to remember the legacy of their lost loved one and think of the kind of legacy they would leave when they died.

As an example, Rimmer told them about Alfred Nobel, the man for whom the Nobel Prizes are named.

When Nobel's brother died, a newspaper accidentally printed a copy of an obituary for Alfred instead, giving Nobel a chance to see how he would be remembered, Rimmer said.

After realizing his legacy would be as a "merchant of death and destruction" who profited from licensing the formula for dynamite, Nobel decided to establish the Nobel Prizes, including one for promoting world peace.

Nobel set up a fund whose interest is used to award annual prizes to remember accomplishments that better life, Rimmer said.

"All of us have an opportunity to leave a legacy of peace. We have an opportunity to make a difference in our world," Rimmer said.

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