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Local residents remember shuttle; crew

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
Local residents and students are taking time this week to remember the men and women lost on Saturday when the space shuttle Columbia exploded upon re-entry to Earth.
While local restaurants, businesses and homes tuned their television sets to coverage of the events on Saturday morning, thoughts quickly turned to honoring and remembrance of the seven who died. Those who lost their lives when the shuttle disintegrated over Texas, raining debris across the eastern portion of the state and into Louisiana, were: Rick Husband - commander; Kalpana Chawla - mission specialist 2; William McCool - pilot; David Brown - mission specialist 1; Laurel Blair Salton Clark - mission specialist 4; Michael Anderson - payload commander and Ilan Ramon - payload specialist and first Israeli astronaut.
Locals took time to remember the astronauts through prayer and, in the case of one local school, in writing.
At the First Baptist Church's annual Wildgame Supper held Saturday night, Pastor Jack Fitts led those in attendance in a prayer for the astronauts and their families.
At W.S. Neal Middle School, students took time to write letters that will be mailed to the families of the shuttle crew. Carolyn Brown, WSNMS guidance counselor, said most students were eager to take part in the project.
The letters will be mailed early enough so the families will receive them by Valentine's Day.
Brown added that the students will include one pictorial which is being drawn by sixth-grade student Laramy Boyd.
Dan Shaddock, director at the Brewton Area YMCA, was inspired to pass along words about Shuttle Commander Rick Husband after seeing an interview of his wife, Evelyn Husband, on television.
Shaddock said he was impressed when Husband's wife said he signed autographs with a notation to Proverbs 3:5-6, which reads - "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
As flags at local schools and at city and county offices flew at half mast, memorial services were held throughout the nation, including one attended by President George Bush in Houston on Tuesday.
A service will be held at the National Museum of Aviation aboard NAS Pensacola at 9:30 a.m. today and is open to the public.