Mourners remember Gary brothers as always together
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent July 5, 2014 9:48PM
Friends and family gather in front of the casket of Donel Terrel Smith to pay their last respects in Gary on July 5, 2014. | Jim Karczewski/For Sun-Times Media
Excerpt of an
expression of love from Donel and Terrion’s mother and stepfather
“No farewell words were spoken
No time to say good-bye.
You were gone before I knew it,
And only God knows why.
My heart still aches with sadness,
And secret tears still flow.
What it meant to love you--
No one can ever know.”
Updated: July 6, 2014 2:01AM
GARY — Donel and Terrion Smith were remembered Saturday as bright, active students and close brothers who were always together in life, and now in death.
“They always played together,” said Terrion’s first-grade teacher, Elizabeth Renta.
“They left here together,” said Bishop Norman J. Hairston II, who officiated at the service.
Donel, 9, and Terrion, 8, drowned on June 14 in a water-filled pit in Hobart while playing with other children.
Family, friends, staff at Bailey Preparatory Academy where they attended school and local dignitaries gathered at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Gary to remember the two boys and celebrate their life.
After the service, pallbearers carried the two white caskets out of the church to the song, “I Believe I Can Fly.” The boys’ mother, Tatiana Smith, wrapped her arms around several children as she left the church, with about 200 mourners following her.
Six police cars and one police motorcycle from Gary, Hobart, Indiana State and Indiana University Northwest police departments escorted the funeral procession for part of the way as it headed to Glenwood, Illinois, for the burial.
Leslie McClurg, a facilitator at the school, said when thinking about Terrion, she would think about how helpful he was in the classroom.
“He was the first one there to clean up, to help. He was very quiet,” she said.
Renta described Terrion as “her helper,” saying he was always helping to clean up after meals and to get the other students in order.
McClurg said Donel loved to play basketball and she was sure he would have been on the school’s basketball team when he was in the fourth grade.
Donel also was described as a social butterfly and a math whiz who would help other students with their work.
McClurg read a resolution from the school in honor of the brothers.
“To the family, we share your sorrow. Our loss is heaven’s gain,” McClurg said.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told the family that the city is grieving with them.
“The memory of your sons will live on. We will do whatever we can to make this an easier burden to bear,” Freeman-Wilson said.
Hairston urged the family not to focus on the boys’ deaths but on their lives.
“We’re not here for a funeral. We’re not here because two young men died. We’re here because they lived. They’ve accomplished what they needed to accomplish,” Hairston said.