By Sue Moore
Grief is a powerful thing and when it comes to a sudden tragedy, even more so. Just ask Sheri Freeland, the South County News advertising sales person about how it affected her family. Her cousin, Doris Grinder, of Vicksburg, whom she knew as Aunt Doris, died in her car along with her 70-year companion Norma Woodcox. In late January, as they drove to the end of S. Michigan Avenue from their home a block away, they stopped, then proceeded to drive ahead where there was no road, straight into the Portage Creek. The car flipped over in the creek bed and they were gone before the three minutes it took the fire fighters and ambulance crew to get to them.
Because Sheri is the newspaper’s advertising representative, her first thought was to put a thank you ad in the newspaper. The editorial staff convinced her that what she and her cousin, Terry Butcher, had to say to the community would be more fitting for this article.
“So many people in the community came to help us,” Freeland related. “Norma’s glasses were lost in the accident, so Vicksburg Optometry donated a pair that were just like what she wore. The people at the Village Hall were so comforting when we went there to ask for further information about the accident. They took time to tell us what they knew at that point in the investigation with great sympathy. Mike’s Towing was on the spot and did all he could to pull the vehicle out and reclaim the contents. Andy at Vicksburg Auto Body let us in to see the car and figure out if anything was retrievable. Steve McCowen of Life Story and his staff helped in so many ways. The owners of Rise-N-Dine came to our aid in our hour of need, as did Jody at the Main Street Pub where we held a luncheon after the services.”
“One of the most considerate persons was Tracy McMillan, the fire chief. We noticed that the afghan ‘the girls’ always had in the back seat of their car was still in the creek when we were looking at the scene of the accident. My cousin Terry and I tried to make sense of what had happened as we looked over the bridge and below rippling in the water, was the girls’ afghan. Our hearts stopped, how could this still be there two and a half days days later? That same day, the chief came by the funeral home with the freshly laundered afghan to give back to our family in ‘the girls’ honor,” she exclaimed.
In the time of a very tragic accident with an awful outcome, faith and the sun shown from our town’s people. We are all so blessed to be a part of Vicksburg and need to honestly look at all the good this little place, tucked on the outskirts of Kalamazoo County, has to offer. This is truly why Doris and Norma lived where they lived for over 60 years and loved Vicksburg unconditionally,” Freeland said.