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Woodward News - Thursday, April 9, 1992
Ages of Tornado Victims Sought
Reprint of a story that appeared in the Woodward Daily Press on April 14, 1947.
Burial Of Dead Began Saturday With Two Infants
By Carter Bradley - United Press Correspondent
April 12: Woodward began to bury its dead Saturday in a cold, driving rainstorm as the ravaged city's tornado death list increased to eighty-four, making the total of 147 killed in the Texas-Oklahoma storm area.
Despite the rain, thousands of outsiders crowded into Woodward. Most of them relatives of the dead and of the approximately 400 persons in hospitals
The first funeral was a committal service at Elmwood cemetery for Ray Lee Harper, 4, and Henry C. Harper, Jr., 2 months.
"Let not your heart be troubled: Ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions. It if were no so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."
Birg. Edward Laity of the Salvation Army quoted the passages from St. John as the plain box caskets were lowered into the muddy earth. The parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry C. Harper, two other relatives, and three grave diggers were the only persons present.
Laity read the scriptures after Ernest Wixson, another Salvation Army official had sung, "Safe in the Arms of Jesus." His voice rang out solid with the patter of a hard rain as the only accompaniment.
The Salvation Army official then returned to Emergency Control Headquarters to continue as director of the identification section.
Warren Freeman, an Amarillo florist and two aides, Paul Dollarhide and Jim Wright of Amarillo, came to Woodward Saturday night to make sprays for funerals of the tornado victims held in Woodward.
Working from a truck in the driveway of Armstrong's Funeral Home, the men made a spray for every burial. They used flowers contributed by John Furrows, wholesale florist at Guthrie, and Colorado flower growers of Denver.
Many other victims died from injuries in the weeks and months to come. The final death count in Woodward was to stand at 104.
A list of victims, school-age and younger, of the 1947 tornado that claimed the lives of 104 people is being compiled by the research sub-committee for the 50th anniversary memorial.The names are:
One of the research co-chairmen, has asked readers to help with the search for the ages of the people on the list.
"We have discovered the ages of everyone else on the fatality list. These names are the only ones that we are uncertain about."
The proposed memorial will be erected on the site of Central School, the building that was damaged by the tornado and torn down. Central was located on what is now the south campus of Woodward Middle School.
The memorial will be inscribed with the names of school children and those younger who died in the storm or from injuries sustained in the storm. If those children were living today, they would be between the ages of 50 and 68.
In one of the newspaper accounts of the tornado death toll, there is a fatality listed as Baby Stalett. No other casualty list has that name.
"We have not been able to find any information at all about that child, " a spokesperson said. "It might have been a misprint, a name misspelled that was different in all of the other lists."
An unveiling ceremony will be held on April 9, the 50th anniversary of the disaster.
An article appearing in the Woodward News, Wednesday, January 15, 1997, by staff writer Helen Mossman.
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