Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Community News

April 7, 2014

Tragic loss spurs family event

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Two Wynnewood area widows who share a tragic bond have combined forces to organize an event meant to both honor their late husbands and help a worthy cause.

LeeAnna Mann of Wynnewood and Kari Smith of Pauls Valley lost their husbands in an explosion at the Wynnewood Refinery back in the fall of 2012.

Wanting to honor their memory they’ve organized a community event for later this month designed to bring people together and raise awareness on workplace safety.

Its official name is the Oklahoma Worker’s Remembrance Day Fundraiser.

The event, scheduled from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at the Wynnewood City Park, will honor Russell Mann and Billy Smith.

For both ladies this is one positive way to deal with their ongoing pain from the loss.

“We’re still suffering,” LeeAnna said. “It’s very hard to talk about and some days it’s tough to deal with.

“We want to do something to honor our husbands and help an organization.”

Any money raised from the event will be donated to the non-profit United Support and Memorial of Workplace Fatalities organization (USMWF).

According to LeeAnna, the group works on a national level to support legislation to improve workplace safety for American workers.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to that organization of families of workplace fatalities,” she said.

The tragic loss of their husbands came from the refinery explosion on Sept. 28, 2012.

Kari’s husband Billy was killed instantly, while LeeAnna’s husband Russell passed away 18 days after being severely injured in the explosion.

Both ladies have been working for some time to put together something that honored their husbands and raised awareness about the need for workplace safety.

Their solution was a simple but hopefully effective event bringing people together.

“The event itself will be free,” LeeAnna said, adding there will be games for kids and just about anything else they can come up with.

“We’ll try to have speakers and live local music, maybe solo, maybe bands,” she said.

“The event will be a simple situation. We want to keep it a safe, fun day; make it a day for kids.”

Proceeds will come from some raffle drawings and the sale of food and drink, such as hot dogs and chips.

“The response from the community for this has been awesome,” LeeAnna said.

“We’re very appreciative, very grateful. I’m just thankful.

(Editor’s Note: More on the Worker’s Remembrance Day Fundraiser on April 26 will come later in the PV Democrat.)

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