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By Ben Carlson and Meaghan Downs
If worth were measured based on the number of friends she had, Marie Garmon would undoubtedly have been one of the wealthiest people in Anderson County.
In what was described by a funeral director as one of the largest turnouts he’d even seen, an estimated 4,000 people paid their last respects to Garmon last Friday and Saturday before she was laid to rest in Lawrenceburg Cemetery.
“There were people waiting in line for over two hours,” said Brian Ritchie of Ritchie & Peach Funeral Home. “The line went from the front of the church down South Main, and there were cars parked everywhere.”
Christy Jane Hurst, Marie’s cousin, said the large crowd didn’t surprise her.
“She sparkled and shined a little more than the rest of us,” Hurst said. “People were just drawn to her because she was such a good friend.”
“It was amazing,” said Deede Byrne, chief clinical officer for Hospice of the Bluegrass, where Garmon worked as a nurse. “It was a huge testament to the impact that Marie and her family have made on the community.”
Garmon, 43, died last Wednesday night, five days after the mini-van she was driving was struck head-on by a dump truck on Versailles Road.
The line outside First Christian Church on Friday afternoon stretched from the front doors down toward Gash funeral home, about 50 people deep past the church parking lot at the beginning of the visitation.
Ann Ward knew Garmon for 10 years and is a neighbor of Garmons in The Gardens subdivision.
Ann’s husband, Mike, was close friends with Garmon for more than 20 years.
Ann said her husband is fond of saying: “There’s only two people who knew Marie — the people who liked her and the people who loved her,” Ann Ward said. “She’s just a great person.”
“She [Garmon] had the ability to make people feel important,” Mike Ward said.
Austin Lindzy, a high schooler at Anderson County High School, was wearing one in support of Marie’s son John Paul, with whom he plays sports at the high school.
Across Lawrenceburg and on social media websites, pink and green ribbons with a silver “M” in the center served first as symbol of hope that Marie would recover from the massive injuries she sustained, then as prayerful remembrances of her life.
Mourners wore them while waiting in line to pay their respects, and each of the 35 mailboxes where the Garmons live in The Gardens displayed the ribbons as well.
The outpouring of support didn’t end there. Asked last week by The Anderson News how the community could help, Garmon’s father, Jerry Crawford, suggested donations be made the local food pantry.
David Montgomery, who operates Open Hands Food Pantry, said the donations of food and money have been significant.
Montgomery said a good deal of food donations have been brought in so far, along with cash donations totaling nearly $4,000.
“It’s tremendous and a real blessing for us,” he said. “There is a great need.”
About $3,000 of that total came from donations collected at the annual Bourbon Festival in Bardstown.
Hurst, Garmon’s cousin, is a part-time employee at Wild Turkey Distillery and said the proceeds from two Wild Turkey baskets raffled off at the festival were given to Open Hands.
The Rev. Jim Wheeler of First Christian Church called the outpouring “incredible.”
“I was just so amazed and blessed by the response from the community and her friends,” Wheeler said Monday afternoon. “[When Marie was in the hospital] on Friday, there were probably around 60 folks who just stayed at the hospital … not just family and friends. It was a very emotional time.”
Wheeler described Garmon as “a loving mother, wife and daughter.”
“She was always there for you. She was very giving and there wasn’t a selfish bone in her body.”
Byrne, the Hospice co-worker, said she hired Garmon in 2001 and that she has always been very special to her.
“A visit from Marie just brightened everyone’s day,” Byrne said. “She was so good at what she did. She was always so positive and motivated.
“Even though we deal with death and dying every day, this has been very difficult for our staff. It’s such a traumatic loss.”
Byrne said the pink and green ribbons were the idea of Candi Broughton, the nursing supervisor at the Hospice office in Frankfort.
“She worked with Marie for 11 years,” Byrne said. “The Hospice staff wore them to the hospital when they went to visit Marie, then friends and family there wanted them. It kind of went viral.”
Wheeler acknowledged the Garmon’s death has been very difficult for people who knew and loved her.
“One of the things I said at the service was there are three ways how we cannot allow her death to be in vain,” Wheeler said.
“We can love like she loved, we can give like she gave and we can make everyone who comes into our presence feel special like she did.”
Garmon was a daughter of Jerry D. and Sallie Ripy Crawford of Lawrenceburg, and granddaughter of the late Stanley and Margaret Crawford and E.W. and Nita Ripy Jr.
She was a 1987 graduate of Anderson County High School, attended Western Kentucky University, and a graduate of Midway College with a degree in nursing.
She is also survived by her husband of 15 years, David K. Garmon; two children, John Paul and Marlie Forbes Garmon; and a brother, Jay E. Crawford (Cathy) of Lawrenceburg.