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06-17-04 Funeral story is refuted

By Timothy Cox

  Heidi Thornburg and Rachel Harris, the two young St. Marys women killed in a June 2 car crash, had nearly identical funeral services, a family member said, dashing concerns that Thornburg's burial was "pauper-like."

  St. Marys resident Sue Sutton had intervened in the situation, asking city officials to consider paying up to $1,000 toward the expenses of Thornburg's funeral because the young woman had no major assets when she died just a few days after high school graduation.
  But Stephanie Harris, Rachel Harris' mother and Thornburg's aunt, said the girls both had dignified services and said there was no need for the city to help out.
  "This is not about money. This is about two little girls who never had a chance to grow up," Harris said.
  Funeral services for the women, which were held a few days apart, were nearly identical, Harris said. They had similar caskets and the same church handling the services. The only major difference between the funerals was the number of people who attended and the amount of flowers, Harris said. Rachel Harris had a long history in the local area while Thornburg had been in the area for a little more than a year, she said.  Sutton had criticized city officials for refusing to help out under terms of the city's indigent burial ordinance. City officials said they were willing to consider assistance, but first had to be asked by the funeral home to help with costs.
  Harris said Sutton's heart was in the right place.
  "I think it was a case of her wanting to do something to help out and when she didn't get instant answers, she got frustrated," Harris said.


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