Family, friends, say goodbye to Missy
COAL TOWNSHIP - Family and friends gave their final goodbyes to Melissa Lee "Missy" Pangburn Saturday at Shamokin Area Middle/High School.
Several hundred people, including many of Pangburn's classmates, attended either a visitation or the funeral service held inside the auditorium.
Two photo collages, along with teddy bears, angel statues and flower baskets, were placed beside two urns that contained the 13-year-old fire victim's cremains.
Pangburn died Tuesday in an accidental fire inside her home at 5 S. Rock St., Shamokin. The fire spread to neighboring row homes, destroying five properties in all.
Photos of the teen were flashed onto a screen as somber music was played. From the auditorium balcony a group of her friends sung along, a stirring moment for many, during The Band Perry's "If I Die Young."
The Rev. David Butler, pastor of Bethel Union Chapel, West Cameron Township, presided over the service. He spoke of celebrating Pangburn and the impact she had on the lives of many, which was evident by the turnout and support many in the community have shown.
"She brightened people's hearts. She gave you something to think about. She brought this community together," Butler said.
Butler honored the police officers, firefighters, paramedics and neighbors who worked to extinguish the blaze, "who tried so desperately to save this little girl," to which a round of applause was given by the crowd.
Joe Vecchio, Pangburn's stepfather, said both he and her mother, Barbara Ann Wiley, were very grateful for everything the community has done for them.
A microphone was passed to anyone who wished to share words about Pangburn.
Her brother described her as bright and smart. One-by-one many friends spoke, remembering Pangburn as kind and thoughtful, funny and chatty. She was the type of person who tried to make her friends feel better about themselves.
Her father, David "Paul" Pangburn III, of Pennsville, N.J., spoke of the distance between him and his daughter. Despite living many miles away, he said he was certain she loved him.
"I know she loved me because when we talked on the phone she always told me she loved me," he said.
Losing his daughter is the hardest experience he's had to deal with in his lifetime, and he's at a loss right now, he said. But he encouraged every parent in the auditorium to take time to reach out to their children.
"If anybody has kids, spend time with them. Don't think it can't happen to you because it happened to me," he said.