By MORGAN MANNS
While it may be a small word, the emotions behind it are anything but.
A crowded Hopewell-Loudon Chieftain gym in Bascom was full of love Friday afternoon in honor of a Fostoria family who tragically lost their lives last week when their West Ohio 18 home became immersed in flames.
Loved ones of the Rainey family came together to remember and pay their respects to James Rainey, 46; Jodi Depinet-Rainey, 41; Austin Rainey, 19; Cody Rainey, 15; and Jessica Rainey, 7; a family that could only be described as full of love.
“When I see the Rainey family, I picture a family circled by love because of the spiritual love they find in the church,” Rev. David Culp, St. John’s United Church of Christ, said. “We will miss that love.
“We came here this day “¦ to celebrate the love the Rainey family has shared with us throughout their lives.”
As family and friends walked through the doors of the building, they were able to witness this love as they looked at trifolds full of pictures of the Rainey family interspersed with donations of flowers, memory stones and throw blankets.
That love was magnified in overwhelming amounts as the Chieftain gym continued to fill with family, friends, coworkers and other loved ones, many wearing #RAINEYSTRONG T-shirts.
“They’re still making their mark in this community. You see their influence everywhere,” Culp said, listing the communities of Bascom, Fostoria, Tiffin, Bloomville and Sycamore. “When I woke up this morning I saw the sun had came out. I’m sure it was Jim and Jodi and the family saying it’s going to be OK.”
He went on to describe each member of the family, remembering the impacts they had on him as members of the church and how their love for each other, family and faith burned bright.
He quickly became friends with Jodi Rainey, who worked for the Seneca County Opportunity Center and supported the special Olympics as well as 4-H and “always had a smile on her face.”
James Rainey he described as a “man’s man,” between his job at Mennel Milling Inc. and farming.
Culp said he quickly became friends with the couple, establishing a relationship outside of the church in a way that they were able to joke and tease with each other.
Jessica Rainey was a smart, active child who expanded energy in all she did, according to Culp, and Cody Rainey was a “wonderful, wonderful kid” with lots of enthusiasm and aspirations.
Culp said Austin Rainey, who he knew for many years, grew up making many achievements — from FFA to 4-H — with many achievements underway. A cadet with Bascom Joint Fire District, he had just weeks until he was scheduled to take a firefighter test.
In his honor, Bascom Joint Fire District gave a salute and the final strikes of the bell of Austin Rainey. They unfolded the American flag on a casket and presented the family with a personal memorial of their own.
The final tones were also heard over radio traffic later Friday evening as Seneca County made the last call to the cadet.
“It is with great sadness and sorrow that #69 Austin Rainey answers his last call here on Earth,” the Seneca County representative said, explaining #69 would be retired from active duty as a memorial for Rainey. “May his inspiration and dedication be a reminder to us all of how we should serve our community.”
The Rainey family lost their lives when their house at 10331 W. Ohio 18 caught fire in the middle of the night on Oct. 26.
The fire was reported around 3:46 a.m. By the time the first units responded to the scene, authorities said the structure was fully engulfed in flames. A call was placed for an exterior-only attack, as it was not safe for firefighters to go inside the home.
In addition, officials said the structural integrity of the home was compromised, which made it difficult for investigators to search for victims.
Two dogs were also found in the residence.
Bascom Joint Fire District assisted the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation in their search for evidence to pinpoint the cause and origin of the fire.
The cause was ruled undetermined as investigators could not rule out electrical- or heating-related sources as possible causes; however, they were able to determine the fire originated on the first floor of the home on the south-facing side.
Seneca County and Bascom EMS, the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office and the American Red Cross assisted the seven fire departments on scene Oct. 26, including Bascom, Fostoria, New Riegel, Kansas, Old Fort, Bloomville and Attica.
Several of those departments were also present during Friday’s funeral services. Personnel from Bascom, Fostoria, Bloomville, Gibsonburg, Bettsville and Attica departments made an appearance during the services as well as the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office.
Culp recited Corinthians 13, explaining without love, there is nothing, and reading through the well-known “love is patient, love is kind” verse.
“‘And now, these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love,'” he read. “I used this scripture because it embodies how all of us feel about the Rainey family.”
Facing the crowd was a large screen projecting a picture of the Rainey family. As services ended, those in attendance watched a video of Jessica Rainey dancing to a song at Vacation Bible School about holding onto God.
“Jessica sang with great confidence that she will hold onto God, and God holds onto us,” said Tim Kummerer, St. Patrick & Andrew Church. “Jim, Jodi, Austin, Cody and Jessica were placed in the hands of Christ and he holds onto them. Each of us have to believe that. There’s no doubt we can trust in God’s eternal love to care for every single one of us. I’m sure the Rainey’s are in his lovel and eternal care right at this moment. The sunshine I saw this morning is proof.”
Fire departments led the funeral procession from the gym to cemetery in their respective apparatus. Surrounded by loved ones, the Rainey family was laid to rest at St. John’s Cemetery in Fostoria.
Memorials can be made to F.A.C.T. (Financial Assistance for Cancer Treatment), the Special Olympics, the Hopewell-Loudon band, Seneca County Jr. Fair Board or the Rainey-Depinet Memorial Fund at any Old Fort Bank.