MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (2/8/14) — Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., as The Band Perry song "If I Die Young" echoed through Felix Martin Hall at Muhlenberg County High School, funeral services began for nine members of the Chad and LaRae Watson family.
Hundreds crowded into Martin Hall to pay their respects to the family from Depoy, a small community located just minutes from the school.
Eight of the Watson's nine children and their mother, LaRae “Nikki”, perished on Jan. 31 when flames from the home's only source of heat, a baseboard heater, ignited a devastating and deadly fire in a matter of minutes.
Mrs. Watson's husband, Chad, and the family's one surviving daughter, Kylie, continue recover at the Vanderbilt Hospital Critical Burn Unit.
The Rev. Tim Burden, of Calvary Baptist Church in Central City, where the Watsons were very active, opened the service.
"This is a very difficult time for the family, their friends, and for our little church, that they were such a big part of,” Burden said. "This tragedy has brought people together in this county and beyond, in ways no one could have imagined just over a week ago."
Burden noted that this is a very difficult time especially for the Watsons and their relatives and many friends.
Burden said, "We appreciate this family so much, and love them so."
Burden was followed by a song from the Oak Ridge Boys, "Thank God For Kids”, which took on a whole new and heart-wrenching meaning as those attending the funeral sat, with many heads bowed, and nine caskets in a row at the front of the hall . . . a heartbreaking reminder of a dedicated mother and her eight children who just days ago, according to friends and neighbors, enjoyed life even without the many luxuries other children consider necessities.
Pastor Brad St. George, a longtime friend of Chad and Nikki Watson, spoke of the awakening impact this tragedy in the small town of Depoy is even now having around the nation and the world.
"This is an opportunity to open the eyes of people around the nation and the world. God is calling people to Him through this horrific event. People, even now are being saved by this heart-breaking event. LaRae Watson was all about her kids. She would die for them . . . and she did,” St. George said.
After another musical interlude, Vince Gill's “Go Rest High On The Mountain”, Chad Watson's first cousin Rev.
Adam Brown of Temple Baptist Church in Central City, shared his thoughts on why Chad and LaRae wanted to have so many children.
"When I would ask Chad that question, he would just quote Psalm 127,” Brown said.
"Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them."
"Chad knew if you have that many children you are going to have to struggle,” Brown said. “But he would continue with more wisdom from Psalms, noting verses that speak of the fact that happy is the man who has many children.”
Brown added that if there was one word to describe the Watsons and their quiver of children, that word would be "happy".
Brown added that just a few days before the fire, Chad told him something he would never forget.
"I have my wife, I have my kids, and we are happy,” said Brown about Watson.
Brown said that Nikki Watson shared the same attitude.
"Nikki loved her children. She proved that love with each child. Nikki loved them all, with all her heart,” Brown said. "Those children were not a burden to Chad and Nikki. They were a blessing. The older ones would take care of the younger ones like mother hens."
The Rev. Scott Casebier, a close friend of the family, closed the service asking why did God allow this tragedy to happen to this family.
"We can't say enough about the first responders who did all they could on the scene the morning this tragedy happened,” Casebier said. "But if we believe the Gospel, they were really not the first on the scene. The Lord Jesus arrived first. And I believe Jesus called each of them by name. LaRae, Madison, Kaitlyn, Morgan, Emily, Samuel, Raegan, Mark and Nathaniel. Jesus said to them, 'Be not afraid'. And with that, God ushered them across the valley into the presence of God."
Expressions of sympathy can be made to: Old National Bank, First Ky Bank or Commonwealth Community Bank.
SurfKY News Reporter
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