LOWVILLE — After a two-year hiatus, the nursing home at Lewis County Health System held a service to honor residents who have died.
Family members, nursing home staff members and some residents gathered in the ice rink pavilion of the county fairgrounds to remember the 120 people residing at the facility who have died over the last two years.
Staff members took turns speaking to the group of about 30 attendees, saying the name of each resident who had passed and sharing funny moments and memorable attributes:
“She was a little woman with a big heart.”
“Leonard loved to joke around with the staff.”
“She was a singer who could often be heard humming a tune.”
“He lived by the quote that he ‘loved life until it was more work than fun.’”
“Diane was a spitfire.”
“She loved her family and was proud of them.”
“He was a quiet, gentle man and he always liked his snacks.”
“The first time I met Rachel, she stuck her tongue out at me, but then she laughed.”
One person who had not been living there long, Margaret Turnbull, was noted for being the eldest of the elders at the nursing home. She was 105 years old when she died.
In between and after the mini-eulogies, a poem was read and prayers were offered by the clergy present, including Nate Patnode, James Trainham and David Shivers.
Lowville VFW Commander Dennis Everson and Chaplain Rick Allen gave an additional tribute to the veterans among those who had died, acknowledging what they “had given for American ideals.”
The joint Lowville VFW, American Legion and Marine Corps League color guard stood to the side of the pavilion with flags flying for the entire hour of the ceremony. A brass quintet of Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division Band added to the mix of remembering, missing loved ones and celebrating the lives that were lived.
“Taps” was played by a single horn echoing through the hall, and the ceremony concluded with the quintet’s rendition of “Amazing Grace,” a prayer by Pastor Patnode and a final instrumental: “Goin’ Home.”
Family members were invited to stay for refreshments and hear more stories about their loved ones.
Until the pandemic, the nursing home staff held a memorial ceremony every year to honor those who had died at the facility. To avoid bringing any risk of the coronavirus into the nursing home or having a crowded space, the decision was made to have it at the fairgrounds.
Despite the pandemic’s impact, nursing home Administrator Debra Wurz said, the number of deaths has been down for the past two years, in part because there were fewer residents.
The service was made possible through the cooperation of a number of local businesses and groups, including Linkinglewiscounty.com, which live-streamed the event, Sunnycrest Flowers, The Marine Corps League and the Lewis County Fairgrounds.