Friday, October 24, 2014

Elkhart soldier's upcoming funeral garners support, stirs controversy

Posted on Jan. 1, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 1, 2014 at 6:35 p.m.

Truth Staff

An Elkhart soldier who was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan will be remembered at events Thursday and Friday.

Army Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams' visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2, at Granger Community Church, 630 E. University Drive, Mishawaka.

The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Friday at Granger Community Church, with visitation beginning at 11 a.m. Interment will immediately follow the funeral service in Rice Cemetery in Elkhart.

Rumors fly about controversial church group attending funeral

Rumors were quickly flying across social media Wednesday, Jan. 1, about a controversial church group protesting at Williams' funeral.

Russ Bauer, Senior Ride Captain of the North East region of the Indiana Patriot Guard, is confident members of Westboro Baptist Church will not be at Granger Community Church on Friday.

“We have been invited by the family and will work with law enforcement to keep the services peaceful, quiet and calm,” Bauer said.

Bauer says he's never heard of the group showing up to funeral services during the winter, and as of Wednesday the group has not gotten a protest permit from St. Joseph County.

Money sought for post-funeral dinner costs

Financial support for a post-funeral dinner for the family of Williams is being sought.

Angela Felder, a family friend, is organizing the dinner at the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 19, 1205 Middleton Run Road in Elkhart.

Felder said she sought donations several days ago, but the amount of support has not met expectations.

Felder describes herself as a close friend of the family of Williams.

Williams, 30, was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Dec. 17.

She describes Williams as “The best of the best.”

“This is a young man who fought three tours in Afghanistan to protect us,” Felder said.

Felder is planning on preparing a dinner for about 200 people, she said.

While they have received some food and financial donations, Felder said more is needed.

She is asking for monetary donations. Money not needed for the dinner will be given to the family, Felder said.

Williams leaves behind a six-year-old daughter, Madison.

The best way to contact Felder is through her cellphone at 370-4068, or through a private message to her Facebook account.

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