Healing begins for families of mudslide victims

The friends and families the victims of the March 22 mudslide that has claimed at least 30 lives begin the healing process with memorial services and a candlelight vigil this weekend.

By , Associated Press

Two weeks after a deadly mudslide buried the town of Oso, Wash., the community mourns together.

Friends and family came together Saturday to remember a 69-year-old retired librarian and 36-year-old school custodian and farrier, two of the victims of Washington's devastating mudslide.

The services are among several scheduled over the weekend to remember those killed in the March 22 slide that buried the community of Oso, about 55 miles northeast of Seattle. Thirty people were killed, and 13 are missing.

A service was held in the nearby town of Darrington for Linda McPherson, who retired after 28 years as a librarian in Darrington and was a longtime school board member. She grew up with six brothers and sisters in Oso.

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"It's nice to see what a small town community can pull together and help each other out through these tough times," Ms. McPherson's nephew, Mark Fusetti, told KING-TV.

McPherson was home reading the newspaper with her husband, Gary McPherson, when a wall of mud buried their home. He was injured but survived.

KOMO TV said that during the service, her two children and husband celebrated her contributions to their family, friends, and her beloved hometown of Darrington.

"When we were growing up if life threw us lemons, we always had lemonade. She always made things better for everyone around her," Eric McPherson said about his mother.

Colleagues say Linda's joy seemed endless at the Darrington Library where she worked for 28 years. She also served on the Darrington School Board where she generously gave as a board member.

Hundreds of people in Arlington honored Summer Raffo, a school custodian in Darrington who also shoed horses. Ms. Raffo, who was in her car when the mudslide hit, married three years ago and was the fifth of 13 children, KING-TV reported.She was remembered for her love of family, her passion for horses and her infectious smile, according to the station.

The services were held as search teams on Saturday continued the grueling work of combing through the massive debris field to look for victims.

A memorial was also scheduled Sunday in Everett for Alan M. Bejvl, 21, who died in the slide along with his fiance Delaney Webb, according to Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home.

The two were visiting her grandparents, Thom and Marcy Satterlee, when the slide came down, killing all four. The younger couple was planning a summer wedding at the Satterlees' property in Oso.

Several hundred people also were expected at a community candlelight vigil planned Saturday night in Darrington.

Michael Duncan, pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church, said in a statement that the event is an opportunity to begin the healing process.

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