Macon mom and her three daughters, all who died in a fire, remembered at a memorial service

wcrenshaw@macon.comJune 22, 2013 

Less than a half mile up the street from the house where Jennifer Caffee and her three daughters died in a fire, friends and family packed into Countryside Baptist Church on Saturday for a memorial service.

Pastor Rayford Johnson, who gave the eulogy, said prior to the service that the family attended church there every Sunday.

“The community is in shock, when you lose four people out of a family,” he said. “We all want to know what happened.”

Investigators haven’t determined what caused the fire, or ruled out foul play, and community members said that has made it more difficult to come to grips with the tragedy.

Caffee, 36, Elizabeth Caffee, 13, Wendy Chapman, 10, and Holly Tucker, 5, died in the blaze that occurred in the early morning hours of June 13. Yellow tape still surrounded the destroyed brick duplex Saturday at the corner of Carmen Place and San Carlos Drive. Stuffed animals were piled in a makeshift memorial at the location.

Their remains had been cremated, and large pictures of the four were placed in front of the altar in the small sanctuary. Many people listened to the service from the porch.

Teachers of each of the girls spoke. Harriet Agen, who taught Elizabeth, known as “Lizzie,” described her as an outspoken but loving child.

“She was the kind of student that you never knew what you are going to get out of her, but I appreciated that,” she said. “I never heard her complain.”

Johnson said Lizzie was on the church’s team that competed in Bible knowledge contests, and she did very well.

Holly Tucker participated in a tutoring program at Christ Episcopal Church in Macon. Deacon Janet Tidwell said tutors there took the news of her death hard.

“Holly was a live wire,” she said. “She was full of energy and full of love.”

In the eulogy, Johnson said just the weekend before the fire, Elizabeth and Holly had gone on a camping trip with the church, their first time camping, and had a good time.

“All of them were precious in this church,” he said. “I will tell you I will never forget them at long as I live.”

The first Sunday after the fire happened was a difficult service, Johnson said prior to the memorial service.

“It was hard to do,” he said. “People were torn up and crying. We really didn’t have a service. We just talked. It was a tough Sunday.”

All that week the church doors stayed open, he said, so that community members could come in and talk.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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