Memorial service honors tornado victims

Meteorologist James Spann was the keynote speaker during the memorial service. Shown from left are Guin City Clerk Rebeca Markham, Spann, Guin Mayor Phil Segraves and Guin Assistant City Clerk Lorie Mayo.

By P.J. Gossett
General manager
GUIN — Scars have been on the hearts of many Guin residents for 50 years. Those scars were left by one of the strongest tornadoes ever recorded in history, as it came down on the city on April 3, 1974. Since then, the town has overcome the destruction and built the city back, though the loss of life is still felt, especially by the families of the 25 who perished in the tornado. These 25 were honored during a memorial service Wednesday, April 3, 2024, at Guin First Baptist Church, a handful of hours from the minute the tornado struck 50 years prior.
Events of last Wednesday began during the morning with wreath laying at Guin City Cemetery by members of the Beta Club from Marion County High School, where nine of the 25 tornado victims are buried.
The wreaths were compliments of the City of Guin, while Lorie Mayo, assistant city clerk, was an organizer for the memorial service.
“(Mayo) called and said this is what I would like to do,” Beta Club sponsor Amber Beckon said concerning the wreath-laying. “She needed a few Beta members to do this and for tonight at the ceremony, where a Beta member will read the names (of the 25 who passed away from the tornado) and Beta members will light candles.
“This town has been good to us,” she added. “Our members were honored with placing the wreaths on victims' graves that morning and lighting candles at the evening ceremony,” Beckon said. “Several told me how humbled they felt to have taken part in the day - it was a somber moment, and one they will cherish.”
The memorial service began at 6 p.m. Mayor Phil Segraves welcomed everyone, and the opening prayer was given by Zane Miles of Guin First Baptist Church. MCHS student Anna Rhea White read the poem “Spirit of Guin” by Mildred McGuire, and members of the Beta Club lit 25 candles, one for each victim, as  Reagan LeDuke read each name.
A slide show was shown before Hunter Robinson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham gave a presentation on the tornado, along with statistics from previous tornadoes and how they compared to the one in Guin. A prayer for the city was then given by Brad Frazier of Guin Church of Christ.

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