|Birth: ||Apr. 2, 1988|
|Death: ||Apr. 1, 2001|
William Ford Abernathy
OCALA -- His blue coffin was in the middle of the chapel surrounded by flowers and pictures of him. Hundreds of people who filed by one last time to say good-bye to a boy who was hailed as a healer and inspiration to those who knew him.
About 300 people jammed Hiers Funeral Home in Ocala Thursday, some smiling, some laughing, some crying and remembered 12-year-old William Ford Abernathy, who died on Sunday morning in a fire which destroyed his family home and severely burned his cousin Amy Newvine.
William's family was asleep at around 3 am Sunday when William's sister, Brittany, saw the fire and jumped up to alert her parents, who were sleeping nearby. In the confusion, Debbie and William Abernathy and most of the children and adults in the home hurried out the door, but no one immediately realized William was missing.
When they finally realized he was still in the burning house, family members mounted a frantic rescue attempt but could not get to the boy in time.
On Thursday afternoon, Amy was in critical but stable condition in the intensive care unit at Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville with burns over 75 percent of her body.
The fourth of six children, William was a fun-loving boy who loved sports and was excited about being a teen-ager, his parents say.
"Instead of buying birthday presents for him, I'll be buying a coffin," said his mother. "His grandfather loved him so much and I know, he'll be in good hands with his grandfather (who is deceased) because he will take care of him."
During the 25-minute service, officiated by pastor Wade Bass of Life Tabernacle, a number of William's closest friends and family members recalled his humble ways, sense of humor and hardworking nature.
Smartly dressed in a white shirt and tie, J.R. Key, one of William's best friends who frequently played basketball with him, told the gathering that "he lost a friend and a partner who will always live with forever."
Rev. Bass, who said he did not know William, remarked that William must have been a special person based on the turnout at the service. Sometimes, he went on to say, "God does not give us an explanation on why things happen." And while William's sudden death "may not make sense," it's important for everyone to remain vigilant because "no one knows the time when they will be called home."
Saddlewood Elementary School Assistant Principal Wayne Livingston, who knew William before the boy moved on to West Port Middle School, said they became close friends because William cared about his fellow pupils - especially those who sought counseling.
"William has helped me grow in my job as an elementary school administrator by sharing with me what it was to be an elementary school student," Livingston said. "William was a part of my life for a reason and a season. Now, he is also a part of my life for a lifetime."
Later at the boy's grave, William's parents had to walk away for a moment to console each other.
The parents were comforted by another parent who knew exactly what they were experiencing.
"William came to Michael's funeral, now they are together," said Linda Ibarra, mother of Michael Wiltsie whose son died when he was accidentally suffocated by a camp counselor at the Eckerd Youth Camp last year.
A bank account has been set up at AmSouth for both children to aid the family. Trinity Baptist Church of Ocala is accepting donated items for the family.
Ocala Star-Banner (FL) April 2-6, 2001
Beloved Son, Grandson, and Brother
Highland Memorial Park
Created by: Marion County Genealogic...
Record added: Feb 16, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 65738951
Added: Sep. 7, 2016
Added: Feb. 21, 2011