Hero grandma, couple on 45th anniversary among boat victims
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — The 17 people killed when a tourist boat capsized in a Missouri lake included nine members of one family, a couple celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary and a grandmother who family members say saved her granddaughter’s life. A memorial service was scheduled for Sunday afternoon for those who died when the vessel, known as a duck boat, sank Thursday evening.
A look at the dead:
WILLIAM ASHER, 69, MISSOURI
ROSEMARIE HAMANN, 68, MISSOURI
Friends say Rosemarie Hamann and William Asher were a fun-loving couple who loved music and dancing. They lived in the St. Louis suburb of Affton.
They had just celebrated Hamann’s 68th birthday three days before their deaths. Hamann’s last public posting on Facebook was a selfie with Asher. He’s sticking his tongue out, and she’s smiling at his silliness.
Friend Russ McKay said he met the couple four years ago when they offered to help with a charity event McKay was organizing. The three worked on annual charities for veterans in the ensuing years.
“They were so in love. It’s just heartbreaking,” McCay said.
JANICE BRIGHT, 63, MISSOURI
WILLIAM BRIGHT, 65, MISSOURI
William and Janice Bright were in Branson to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.
The Brights have three children and 16 grandchildren. In a Facebook posting about their anniversary last month, William reflected on the wonderful life he and his wife shared. “Still happy,” he wrote, going on to say, “it’s hard to believe how fast the time go ... it’s been a lot of fun.”
Neighbor Barbara Beck said the Brights moved to Higginsville from Kansas City, Missouri, three years ago to be closer to a daughter and their grandkids, and they relished small-town life. At least twice a week the couple would watch the grandchildren.
The couple went to Branson as a final extended trip, saying that after that, they would take only short day trips, Beck said.
“They told me they just wanted to get out one more time and be on their own for a little while,” Beck said.
GLENN COLEMAN, 40, INDIANA
Glenn Coleman was among nine members of one Indiana family to die. His wife, Tia Coleman, and a 13-year-old nephew were the only members of the family who boarded the boat who survived. A photo of the family taken before the fateful ride shows all 11 relatives who got onto the vessel.
Glenn Coleman was a down-to-earth, laid-back father, said Serica Franklin, a cousin of his wife. His Facebook page is filled with photos of his family relaxing at the beach or dressed up for an event. When their youngest, Arya Coleman, was born last year, Glenn shared pictures of his “baby girl” and thanked his “wonderful, amazing wife.”
He coached for 10 years in a football league for inner city kids in Indianapolis until he had to stop because of his warehouse job, the Indianapolis Star reported .
REECE COLEMAN, 9, INDIANA
EVAN COLEMAN, 7, INDIANA
ARYA COLEMAN, 1, INDIANA
Reece Coleman loved the water and his family took the Ride the Ducks tour because it was something he’d enjoy doing, said his mother, Tia Coleman. She described her son, who had autism, as “the happiest, sweetest boy,” who made every day worth living.
Meanwhile, Evan Coleman was excited to start second grade in a program for gifted children, Franklin said.
Franklin described Arya Coleman as a happy child who was “all smiles.” Franklin recalled holding Arya during a birthday party last week in Indianapolis, which will serve as a final living memory of the family.
“I want people to know that this was a very loving, close-knit family. Three beautiful bright children have lost their lives,” Franklin said. “There’s no way to make sense of it right now.”
ANGELA COLEMAN, 45, INDIANA
MAXWELL COLEMAN, 2, INDIANA
Angela Coleman would do anything for her family, said her sister-in-law, Tia Coleman, who called Angela her sister because they were so close.
Angela was the cook of the family and started a website called Angiee’s Elegant Eats, where she shared recipes and wrote restaurant reviews.
“This is my passion. This is my non-child centered creative outlet,” she wrote on the website . “I like to share what I create with my friends and family and hope to give them some ideas and inspiration along the way as countless others have given to me.”
Angela’s son, Max, loved “big hugs and warm kisses,” Tia Coleman said. She called her nephew the “sweetest baby ever.”
BELINDA COLEMAN, 69, INDIANA
HORACE COLEMAN, 70, INDIANA
ERVIN COLEMAN, 76, INDIANA
Belinda and Horace Coleman, Tia’s mother-in-law and father-in-law, loved traveling together after they retired, especially on big family trips, a longtime friend said.
Horace Coleman worked for UPS before retiring, said longtime neighbor Maxine Gilliam. Horace, who went by Butch, also spent four decades coaching youth football, she said.
Belinda Coleman, who went by Toni, was a talented seamstress, Gilliam said.
Gilliam said she and Toni were like sisters. They got pregnant with sons one year apart, and would bring their babies to football practice and games and watch together from the sidelines, she said.
“If either of us needed to talk, we’d go to Dairy Queen and unload while we ate ice cream,” she said.
Ervin Coleman was Horace’s brother and lived with Horace and Belinda.
LESLIE DENNISON, 64, ILLINOIS
Leslie Dennison died saving her 12-year-old granddaughter’s life, according to family members.
Dennison’s son, Todd Dennison, told the Kansas City Star that his mother, who lived in the western Illinois town of Sherrard, had taken his daughter on a special trip to Branson, Missouri. They had just arrived in town Thursday night when they went out on the duck boat tour.
Todd Dennison says his daughter told him that after the boat was submerged, she felt her grandmother below her, pushing her upward. “She said her grandmother saved her,” he said.
LANCE SMITH, 15, ARKANSAS
STEVE SMITH, 53, ARKANSAS
Though only 53, Steve Smith’s career in education was over. His son’s education was about to enter a new phase — high school.
Steve Smith taught math for many years in Osceola, Arkansas, before retiring in his early 50s, his father, Carroll Smith, said. He loved old Westerns and most visits to his parents’ house ended up with them watching a black-and-white movie. Smith was also active in his church.
Lance Smith was preparing for his freshman year at Osceola High School.
“It’s a hard thing,” Carroll Smith said of losing his only child and his only grandson. “It’s a very difficult day.”
BOB WILLIAMS, 73, MISSOURI
Bob Williams operated the duck boat while it was on land. He was a pastor in Rhode Island before moving to Branson.
Branson Mayor Karen Best called Williams “a great ambassador” for the city. “He was at every event. He knew everyone. He was always promoting Branson,” Best said.
Charlie and Brenda Revill met Williams about 10 years ago when they all moved into the same condominium complex in Branson. Charlie recalled his friend as always smiling, always willing to lend a hand.
Before moving to Branson, Williams had founded Cathedral of Life, now called King’s Cathedral, in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1999.
His son-in-law, the Rev. Jeffery Williams, now leads King’s Cathedral. He told WPRI-TV that Williams was a “prince of a man, loving, kind and generous.” He said the loss to the family is “incalculable.”
Slodysko reported from Indianapolis. Associated Press reporters Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston, Sara Burnett in Chicago, Jim Salter in St. Louis, and AP researcher Monika Mathur in New York contributed to this report.