One year to the day, hundreds of area residents came together Sunday to officially dedicate the memorial of the May 10, 2008, tornado victims.


One year to the day, hundreds of area residents came together Sunday to officially dedicate the memorial of the May 10, 2008, tornado victims.

The memorial is set on the site of the Lant’s Feed, at the intersection of Missouri Highway 43 and Iris Road.

The memorial (which includes a memorial stone, some landscaping and a flag pole) is set south of the store – which was totally destroyed on that tragic day. An inscription on the front reads, “At 6 p.m. Saturday, May 10, 2008, an F-4 tornado touched down north of Seneca, Mo. It left behind massive destruction and it claimed the lives of these area residents. This memorial has been placed here to honor those residents.”

Fourteen residents were killed and their names were also inscribed on the memorial: Ruby Bilke, Tyler Casey, Teri Lynn Cook, Paul Gallemore, Linda Hasty, Barbara Monroe, Daniel Monroe, Jeff Monroe, Terrance “Joe” Monroe, Rockie Peterson, Christene Petree, Clayton Rountree, Kathy Rountree and Richard Rountree.

“These stones that represent this memorial are only one link…we remember them in our hearts…we will never forget them,” said Rev. Robert Martin, in the opening remarks. “This memorial is dedicated to help us.”

Others in attendance during the service included Speaker of the House Ron Richard, Sen. Gary Nodler, and State Reps. Marilyn Ruestman and Kevin Wilson. The store’s owners, Bill and Jane Lant, spearheaded the memorial.

“We are here to commemorate the lives that were lost one year ago today,” Nodler said. “This monument is not only the lives that were lost here, but a reminder to each one of us how precious each day of our lives truly is.”

Lant approached the podium and told the crowd about the countless volunteers that unfaithful day.

“What can I say to these first responders and these firefighters?” Lant said. “God bless you all.”

After the speeches, representatives of the various emergency services placed wreaths on the memorial.?

And then, one by one, family and friends of most of the 14 survivors took turns placing flowers on the memorial.

In attendance was Tyler Casey’s family.

“I thought that this was great,” said Jerry Casey, Tyler’s father. “I thought that it was really great for what they done for all of these families that lost their families. I am very touched by what they done in the situation that happened a year ago.  It is just an honor for what they did.”

Jerry added his son, a volunteer firefighter, enjoyed his job.

“He loved doing what he did,” he said. “He loved trying to save lives if he could, because we all know that he put his life in harm’s way to save others.”

Jerry remembered his son as being well-liked and said he enjoyed being around people.

“Tyler was outgoing and had a great personality,” said Jerry. “We all loved him and will miss him dearly.”

Also in attendance was Mary Kaye Bilke.

“We lost my mother-in-law, Ruby Bilke, and my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and nephew, the Rountrees,” said Mary. “We miss them terribly. We worshiped together every Sunday — that is a big emptiness in our life, now. They are not there at church on Sunday, it is just a big void in our life. But we know where they are, they are in God’s presence in Heaven, so we rejoice with that. We will see them again someday.”

Katrina Ferguson and her 8-year-old son, Wyatt, came from Granby to support those families that lost love ones during the tornado.

“It is an emotional thing,” Katrina noted shortly before her son put an American flag in the ground near the memorial. “It affects you in such a way that it is hard to put into words.”