A Personal Story About The Eruption of Mount St Helen's | SPIRIT 105.3 - Faith, Fun and Family
A Personal Story About The Eruption of Mount St Helen's
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Every year on this day, emotions run a little heavy for me. My family, along with others, suffered the tragic loss of someone close to them. For us, it was my aunt, Karen Varner, at the age of 21. She was a daughter, a big sister to three siblings, and a loving fiancé. Her fiancé, Terry Crall (21), also perished in the blast.

They had planned to go to the beach with friends for the weekend, and instead decided to take a trip to a campsite on the Green River. They were camping in the “safe zone” designated by officials, so should something go wrong, they would be safe. It was a weekend of fishing and fun for them, until that fateful morning.

On the morning of May 18th, 1980, Mt. St. Helens began to erupt. Most of their friends scrambled to escape from the explosion of scorching hot ash and trees being flattened around them. Terry hurried into the tent Karen was sleeping in to wake her and flee for their lives. Friends of Terry and Karen’s were able to survive – by the grace of God. Karen and Terry, sadly, did not.

One comfort from that fateful day is knowing that they were together. Terry and Karen were found later, holding each other in their arms. They now rest side by side forever in a local cemetery in Longview, WA. They embodied a true love story, cut devastatingly too short.

Karen and Terry are remembered as “amazing people with hearts of gold.” They were both loved by many. Sheryl, the younger sister of Karen recalls, “she always spoiled me rotten. She always made sure I felt special and safe. She even let me sleep at the foot of her bed when I was afraid”. An overwhelming amount of people showed at the funeral to pay their respects. If they were here today, Karen would most surely be a nurse and Terry would be a game warden – with some rowdy nature-loving kids in tow.

Needless to say, my family misses them terribly. Each year we are reminded of the loss along with the other families that lost someone too. This is just one story from that historic day and there are many others out there like it. Will you join us in praying for the families and friends who lost loved ones on the morning of May 18th, 1980?


Lord, today, we come before you and remember those who lost their lives tragically during the eruption. We specifically lift up those families of the victims listed below. Surround their families today during moments when the memories may overwhelm them. Lord, help us to prepare ourselves for tragedy. Lord, give us protection and peace. Thank you that you are with us during moments of fear and devastation. You alone know our days and we look to you for guidance. Thank you for your peace. Amen.

We Lift Up & Remember the following:

  • Reid Turner Blackburn, 27, Vancouver newspaper photographer
  • Wallace Norwood "Wally" Bowers, 41, Winlock logger
  • Joel K. Colten, 29, Wyncote, Pa., retail brassware company employee
  • Ronald Lee Conner, 43, Tacoma port engineer
  • Terry A. Crall, 21, Longview logger
  • Clyde Andrew Croft, 37, Roy, Wash., grocery warehouseman
  • Jose Arturo Dias y Miranda, 32, Mount Angel, Ore., logger
  • Ellen Dill, 53, Kirkland, Wash., Boeing employee
  • Robert William "Bill" Dill, 61, Kirkland, Wash., service manager
  • Arlene H. Edwards, 37, Portland freelance photographer
  • Jolene H. Edwards, 19, Portland waitress
  • Bruce Edward Faddis, 26, Sisters, Ore., associate golf course superintendent
  • James F. Fitzgerald Jr., 32, Moscow, Idaho, volcanology Ph.D. student,
  • Thomas G. "Tom" Gadwa, 35, Montesano, Wash., salesman and part-time logger
  • Allen R. Handy, 34, Puyallup, Wash., grocery warehouseman
  • Paul Hiatt, age and hometown unknown
  • David A. Johnston, 30, Menlo Park, Calif., USGS geologist
  • Day Andrew "Andy" Karr, 11, Renton, Wash., son of Day Bradley Karr
  • Day Bradley Karr, 37, Renton, Wash., wholesale produce company owner
  • Michael Murray Karr, 9, Renton, Wash., son of Day Bradley Karr
  • Robert M. Kasewater, 39, Portland chemist
  • Christy Liann Killian, 20, Vader forklift operator
  • John Garland Killian, 29, Vader logger
  • Harold R. Kirkpatrick, 33, Newberg, Ore., freelance photographer
  • Joyce M. Kirkpatrick, 33, Newberg, Ore., egg plant supervisor
  • Robert Emerson Landsburg, 48, Portland freelance photographer
  • Robert Lynds, 25, Kelso log truck driver
  • Gerald O. Martin, 64, Concrete, Wash., retired Navy officer
  • Jerome Lloyd Moore, 45, Kelso painter
  • Keith A. Moore, 37, Mossyrock, Wash., surveyor
  • Shirley Ann Moore, 49, Kelso state DOT worker
  • Kevin Christopher Morris, 7, Olympia child of Barbara Seibold
  • Michelle Lea Morris, 9, Olympia child of Barbara Seibold
  • Edward Joseph Murphy, 62, Renton, Wash., retired planner
  • Eleanor Jeanne Murphy, 57, Renton, Wash., retired secretary
  • Donald R. Parker, 45, Westport, Ore., miner and retired engineer
  • Jean Isabell Parker, 56, Portland nurse
  • Natalie Ali Parker, 50, Westport, Ore., homemaker
  • Richard A. Parker, 28, Shelton, Wash., forklift operator
  • William Paul Parker, 45, Portland microwave technician
  • Merlin James "Jim" Pluard, 60, Toledo logging foreman
  • Ruth Kathleen Pluard, 56, Toledo homemaker
  • Fred D. Rollins, 58, Hawthorne, Calif., retired security guard
  • Margery Ellen Rollins, 52, Hawthorne, Calif., homemaker
  • Paul F. Schmidt, 29, Silverton, Ore., labor analyst
  • Barbara Lee Seibold, 33, Olympia teachers aide
  • Ronald Dale Seibold, 41, Olympia engineer
  • Donald James Selby, 48, Everett, Wash., millwright
  • Evlanty V. Sharipoff, 41, Mount Angel, Ore., logger
  • Leonty Vasiliyevich Skorohodoff, 30, Mount Angel, Ore., logger
  • Dale Douglas "Doug" Thayer, 36, either from the Olympia area or Kelso
  • Harry R. Truman, 84, Spirit Lake lodge owner
  • Karen Marie Varner, 21, Longview receptionist
  • James S. Tute, 56, Misson, British Columbia tugboat worker
  • Velvetia P. "Velvet" Tute, 51, Mission, British Columbia artist
  • Beverly C. Wetherald, 34, Portland finance worker
  • Klaus Zimmerman, 27, Spokane commercial artist

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