My family and I are hoping you will publish this letter as a way of helping us thank the people of our community for their love and support since my home was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.
Words cannot express how much we appreciate the motorists who saw the flames and beat on the door until I heard them in my bedroom and was able to escape the fire. We appreciate so much the willingness of Rexann Duren, Jimmy Owens, and Nathan Shipes who took the time to do this in pouring rain and with dangerous lightening all around. There might have been others there, but we only know these three names. You have done a wonderful thing for our family, and we thank you very much.
We also thank the many firefighters who fought the dangerous blaze for hours and then helped us retrieve precious family heirlooms, clothes, photographs, furniture, and other items amid smoke and pouring rain. We cannot put into words our sincere appreciation to you brave men and women who have done so much for us. We realize that you had likely worked a full day when you received the call to my home at about 4:00 pm. You were still at my home hours after nightfall. You are our communityís heroes, and we thank you very much.
We also appreciate the dozens of friends and family members who came out to comfort and encourage us during the fire and help us move so many items from the smoldering house. Many of you also helped us clean up over the next few days. We especially thank the members of Holmes Creek Baptist Church for your love and compassion--and for your many gifts. You have shown us by example what the family of God is supposed to do. May God bless you all and reward you for your faithful service when we needed you in the midst of a family crisis.
We want to publicly thank Lynn and Faye Cope for their offer of a beautiful family home for me to live out my days. This gesture allows me to continue to live in my own neighborhood, and Iíll be even nearer to my precious church. I never expected to be homeless at the age of 87, but I'm already finding it surprisingly like "home." This special gift also demonstrates exemplary love and concern. It is the perfect example of what family members do for each other. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Iíve always believed that I had made my home and brought up my daughters in the most wonderful place in the world. You have now found new ways to show me just how right I was. May God bless you all for your many kindnesses to my family and me.
Ben and Gardis Watts
Ronnie and Gail Hartzog