Elizabeth Doney Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Funeral services were held in Havre Tuesday for one of three local men who perished in an ai rplane crash i n Burlington, Wash. On Sept. 13. Two of the men, John Brown, Sr., 59, and Randy McPherson, 56, were long-time residents of Hav r e. A t h i rd v i c t im, Christopher Schafer, 25, had recently moved to Havre from Missoula and left behind a newlywed bride of three months. McPherson and Brown left behind wives of many years, children and grandchildren, as well as numerous family members and friends. Issues of inclement weather and poor visibility surround the investigation that has ruled out engine trouble or other system malfunctions in the crash that killed the men on impact, a spokesperson with the National Transportation Safety Board said. Late Tuesday morning in Havre, the St. Jude's Parish Center filled with people gathering to share in a time of sorrow with the family of McPherson, an independent landman, fa rme r, ra n c h e r, heavy equipment operator, vehicle boat and RV salesman. People stood lining the walls, seated at tables and hovering outside the door, as a song by Dana West and Marie Deegan r e s o u n d e d s o f t l y through the room. In unison, mourners led by officiating pastor Tim Maroney prayed for McPherson, followed by the reciting of Ecclesiastes, "A Time for Everything." Maroney welcomed the audience to share their memories of McPherson and several came forward. Though they did not introduce themselves, some were later identified as two of his brothers and two of his sisters-in-law. "Randy was a husband. Randy was a father, a son, a brother, an uncle, but most of all, Randy was a friend," the first man to speak said. "Randy was a friend ... he irritated the hell out of me, but he was my friend," another said. "He loved Montana. He was a gentleman. He was a good person." Others said, "He was a huge man with a great heart," and "He will be sorely missed ..." Kathie Newell, of Northern Montana Hospital's public relations, spoke of McPherson's dedication to his daughters and their participation in high school sports. "He was a mainstay in just about every gym in this state and surrounding states to support his girls," Newell said. "I think the fact that he was at every game says what kind of father he was. The fact that he regularly sent flowers to his wife said what kind of husband he was. They were the envy of many women." McPherson's wife, Marie, and daughters, Jessica (Kent) Clinger of Orem, Utah, Jana (Josh) Nordboe of Chinook, Jayla McPherson (Andrew Sakalis) of Havre, and Jeanna McPherson of Missoula chose The content of the memorial service with their husband and father in mind, Pastor Maroney said. "He liked Psalm 23 a lot. The Lord is my Shepherd was his favorite Psalm," Maroney said. "The family chose the reading of the scriptures, the judgement of the sheep and goats, perhaps because he did, indeed, feed the hungry. He did, indeed, invite the strangers in and clothe them. He opened his home, he opened his life to God's children. The man's life that we are here to celebrate was living each breath, this scripture." Concluding the memorial service, a melody of bagpipes played by Roger Sherman filled the room with the sound of "Amazing Grace." Following the services, a fellowship luncheon included red wine to commemorate one of McPherson's favorite past times sharing a glass with his wife. The death of the three men has also been observed through services for Schafer, which were held at 1 p.m. Monday at St. Fancis Xavier Church in Missoula. A memorial service for Brown, who was the pilot of the plane and the owner of three local oil and gas companies, will be held at 1 p. m., Friday at Van Orsdel United Methodist Church in Havre with Pastor Richard Rice officiating. Burial will follow at the Highland Cemetery. A fellowship luncheon will be held at the church following the services. As the families lay their loved ones to rest, the National Transportation Safety Board i n ve s t i g a t i o n c o n t i n u e s. Encounters with weather are the most frequently cited airplane accident-initiating event, accounting for 26 percent of airplane accidents in the United States, according to NTSB statistical data. "We've looked at the aircraft, just finished that portion of the investigation today," Anderson said. "We did not find anything to indicate that there was anything wrong with the aircraft, the engine or any of it's systems. We have also received radar track, a copy of the ground track, and a copy of his discussion between the controller and the pilot. The pilot didn't say anything about having any problems, he was just trying to shoot the approach with very poor weather and visibility." Anderson said when the investigation is complete the report of his findings will be forwarded to the safety board which will ultimately determine how and why the plane went down.