7 fire victims honored, remembered during funeral service - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

7 fire victims honored, remembered during funeral service

Top row (left to right): Cameron Hollingsworth, Eloise Futrell, Carol Collier, Lakesha Ward, Precious Jett. Bottom row (left to right): Angel Mitchell, Diamond Jett, Ernest Jett, Kira Jett, Alonzo Ward. Top row (left to right): Cameron Hollingsworth, Eloise Futrell, Carol Collier, Lakesha Ward, Precious Jett. Bottom row (left to right): Angel Mitchell, Diamond Jett, Ernest Jett, Kira Jett, Alonzo Ward.

The funerals begin Friday for some of the fire victims killed in one of the deadliest fire tragedies in Memphis history.

Seven of the victims died during that horrible fire less than two weeks ago in their South Memphis home. Two more children died that day at the hospital. A few days later Cameron Hollingsworth also died from his injuries.

An investigation found a faulty power cord to an air conditioning unit was to blame. The fire was the deadliest in Memphis in almost 100 years.

Friends and family celebrated the lives of seven members of the Jett family Friday: Angel Mitchell, Diamond Jett, Ernest Jett V, Cameron Hollingsworth-Jett, Kerra Jett, Precious Rose Jett, and their grandmother Eloise Futrell. Services were held at Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Mobile users: Click here to see pictures from the funeral.

"Lives have been lost in our community here and across the city. And we appreciate the outpouring of love and care from this community, and all that has been done and all that has been offered," Dr. Reginald Porter said in his opening statements.

As Erika Givens performed a powerful solo, members of the audience hugged and cried, acknowledging the impactful message behind her song about being thankful for God.

After a reading from the Old Testament and the New Testament, Dr. Porter asked the congregation to pray with him.

"We come at this moment, we're never quite ready, and we never understand. That's why we lean on you God....We know that you never make mistakes and you're always ready," Porter said. "Put your arms around [this family] and comfort them and surround them like only you can do."

Another emotional solo by Carlos Johnson followed the prayer.

Then, Key Coleman, Cummings K-8 Optional School Principal, stood up to speak.

"Our school is hit with a sense of paralysis and a sense of numbness," Coleman said.

He recalled watching the Jett family arrive at school every morning and hearing their laughter echo through the school.

"Every morning, they would come into the cafeteria, and they'd be marching like soldiers. They'd be excited about what was going forward for the day," Coleman recalled. "And after the day would end and conclude, Mr. Jett would be out front, waiting for his kids, and they'd run up to him and big hugs and he would be high-fiving and again commending them about a day well done."

But he said that all changed two weeks ago.

"But our day got interrupted when we got news because the laughter that normally carried with that processional with him every morning, with his kids, we had no more for the past two weeks."

Coleman said that his faculty and the Cummings community is in shock.

"We find that as teachers, we're often times supposed to have answers. And we don't."

Still, he said the family will not be forgotten.

"We were awarded the Kitchen and Community Garden Grant, and that garden will be named in their honor."

In closing, Coleman assured the family that they had a community to rely on.

"When this is over, we're still here, and we're still standing with you," Coleman said. "We are family and we are Cummings."

Next, Cummings third grade teacher Danita Clinton took the stage.

"Naturally so, it is a sad day, but there is a spiritual side," Clinton said. "The Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."

She then read a letter from the person who received Cameron Hollingsworth-Jett's kidney, Robert McDaniel, a retiree from the United States Marine Corps.

"I had been on dialysis for eight years. It's not a coincidence that Cameron was eight years old when he died," Clinton read. "The number eight signifies new beginnings."

McDaniel expressed great thanks for Cameron's sacrifice, and extended his sympathies to the family.

"I'm here as living proof that Cameron's life goes on."

Next, aunt Linda Hollingsworth shared little bits of the personalities of each of her nephews and nieces, Cameron, Ernest, Diamond, Kerra, and Precious Rose.

"There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on this world."

After remembrances from Elaine Youngblood and Reverend James Mobley, COGIC, and two more solos by Crystal Jones and Kinaya Paulette, Hester Powell read acknowledgments.

Then, Pastor Christopher Davis of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church delivered the first eulogy.

He recalled a portion from the fifth chapter of Genesis in which Enoch walks with God.

"Good people have a tendency to grow old without paying it much attention. Without paying it much attention, people become a part of our daily routine...we laugh with them, we cry with them, we fellowship with them," Davis said. "We think very little about how important they are until we look around and they are gone."

He said Eloise Futrell was always a part of his life and his congregation.

"Ms. Eloise always seemed to be there, smiling. Center section, left side, four pews up...smiling," Davis said. "She just always seemed to be there. But just like everything in life, always has a tendency to change. There will always be a time when 'always' will become 'was.'"

Davis said Futrell was a woman who walked with God.

"With the exception of a few times, every time I saw Ms. Eloise, she was walking...and not only was she walking, she was smiling," Davis recalled. "She who walks with God, is one who has a grasp on the difficulties of life and chooses to smile and walk on."

Tying his eulogy back to Enoch, he compared him to Eloise.

"Enoch walked with God. Eloise walked with God. And God walked with them."

He then said that God and Eloise agreed on a time when she needed to "be back home," and when her time came, he gave her a shortcut so that she would not have to suffer.

Click here to watch the full funeral.

Reverend Darrell Pettis provided another moving solo before Reverend Kent Hall, pastor at Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church, gave the second eulogy.

Hall recalled the story of Job and how he faced tragedy.

"You see, worship has a way of putting things into a proper perspective."

There were lots of tears shed as loved ones said their farewells.

"Keep watching over us my angels. We love you," Elaine Youngblood said. "My babies. I will miss you so much."

"They will live the rest of our lives in our hearts," Hollingsworth said.

Dr. Porter offered one final prayer before Susan Clark's closing solo and the recessional out of the church.

The other three victims in the deadly fire will be laid to rest on Saturday.

Lakisha and Alonzo Ward’s services will be held at 1 p.m. at New Salem Baptist Church. Carol Collier’s service will be held at 11 a.m. at Greater Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.

"There's no footprint too small to leave an impact on the world," Hollingsworth said.

Retired Marine receives Cameron's kidneys

A retired Marine is the recipient of 8-year-old Cameron Hollingsworth's kidneys. 

"Please know that this brave young man, who gave me the gift of life, is my hero," Danita Clinton Cummings read from a letter.

Cummings read the recipient's letter to the family at the funeral. She said his name is Robert McDaniel and he is forever grateful.

"I have been on dialysis for eight hears. It has not been by chance that Cameron was 8 years old when God called him home," the letter said. "The number eight represents new beginnings. This is a new beginning."

It's a new beginning that is emerging after such a sad ending.

"Their memory will be with us each and every day," Coleman said.

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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