Patti Morman stands in front of the pine tree that St. Rita’s Medical Center selected as their Christmas tree for the holiday season. The tree is in memory of four Allen East students that lost their lives in the last year in traffic accidents, including her granddaughter, Kierra.
By Charlie Warnimont
for News & Sports
COLUMBUS GROVE - For the second straight year the Christmas Tree outside St. Rita's Hospital in Lima has come from Putnam County.
Rural Columbus Grove residents, Patti and Steve Morman, had their tree selected by St. Rita's Medical Center to be decorated and sit in front of the hospital this holiday season. The official tree lighting ceremony is this Thursday, Dec. 3, at 6:15 p.m.
Last year a tree grown by Polly and Lester Smith, Ottawa, was one of two trees that sat out in front of the hospital for the holidays. This year the Morman's tree will be the lone tree sitting out in front of the hospital.
Back in July, Patti asked her husband, Steve, about donating the tree to St. Rita's in memory of their granddaughter, Kierra Morman, who was fatally injured in an automobile accident on Dec. 5, 2008. But as time went along they decided to include all four of the youngsters that lost their lives in automobile accidents from Allen East High School last year.
"Back in July, I asked Steve about that tree in the front yard and putting it up for consideration by St. Rita's for their Christmas Tree," Patti said. "I contacted them and they told me to send a picture of the tree. One day they called and said they were coming out to look at it. The guy told me they were considering 12 trees, so I didn't think our chances were that good. Then they called back and said our tree had been selected. We feel quite fortunate to have our tree selected from among the 12 trees they were looking at."
At first the tree was going to be in memory of their granddaughter, Kierra, who was a freshman at Allen East when she died. But as time went along the Morman's decided to honor all four of the young kids that died in traffic accidents last year at the school. These included Kierra's friend, Sara Kruger, a sophomore and seniors: Kyle Long and Seth McClintock, who died in an accident. The idea grew stronger as Patti works with the father (Pat Long) of one of the boys that died.
"At first we wanted to dedicate this beautiful tree in memory of Kierra," Patti said. "I work with one of the parents whose son was killed and the more I looked at him, I said let's do it for all four kids. So that's what we did.
"This is a community that is hurting along with the families, grandparents and neighbors. We thought this would be a nice remembrance of the young people that lost their lives in such a short period of time. This will give them a chance to get over the hurt and find a little bit of closure."
Workers from St. Rita's cut down the tree in early November and took it to Lima where it will be officially lit this Thursday, Dec. 3, at 6:30 p.m. The hospital has several events planned for the evening starting at 5 p.m. and running until 8 p.m. DeHaven's Home and Garden Place decorated the tree for the season.
"My granddaughter always said 'you have such a pretty Christmas Tree'," Patti said. "Hopefully she will be saying that because she will be seeing this lovely tree. We are hoping people will come out and see it as a remembrance to these four kids."
The poem below was composed by Steve and Patti Morman and is something Steve may read Thursday night at the lighting ceremony.