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Ouachita choir director’s daughter dies of injuries from plane crash

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP)–The tragedy surrounding the June 1 crash of American Airlines flight 1420 has expanded with the death of 14-year-old Rachel Renee Fuller from crash-related injuries June 16.
Rachel, the daughter of Charles and Cindy Fuller, was traveling with her parents and two sisters, Becky and Sarah, when the plane crashed in Little Rock, Ark. The Fullers were among 25 passengers from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia who were returning to Arkansas following a choir ministry tour in Europe. Charles Fuller, director of the Ouachita Singers, was leading the choir tour.
Nine of the 145 people aboard the flight died at the crash site, including James A. Harrison, 21, a senior music major who was a member of the Ouachita Singers. The death toll increased to 10 when a 33-year-old passenger died the following week. Rachel’s death increased the number of fatalities to 11.
“For the second time in two weeks, our hearts are broken through the loss of another member of our campus community,” said Ouachita President Andrew Westmoreland. “The burden of Rachel’s death is great, but we know that her spirit transcends the boundaries of this world through her faith in God. We extend our love and prayers to the Fuller family and we pledge to stand with them and to embrace them in the days ahead.”
Rachel had been hospitalized for two weeks in critical condition with severe burns. She was a patient at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock at the time of her death.
“Rachel lived in the fullness of her faith in Jesus Christ from the age of six, and to the end of her life, she testified to God’s grace,” her parents shared in a prepared statement.
A 4.0 student at Arkadelphia’s Goza Junior High School, she was a member of the National Junior Honor Society, a student council officer, an all-region band oboe player and drum major for the school band. She also was an active member of First Baptist Church, Arkadelphia, where she was a member of the church orchestra, youth choir, youth drama team, youth council and Acteens. She also was active in basketball, volleyball and softball.
“During these difficult weeks, the family has experienced the sustaining strength of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world,” Rachel’s parents’ said in their statement. They expressed “deep gratitude for the faithfulness of so many who shared in their grief.”
A June 19 memorial service held on the Ouachita campus was described in a printed program as “a worship service celebrating the life of Rachel Renee Fuller.” The program included a poem Rachel had written two years ago, which said in part: “I know where I’m going when my life is through …To a place of no worries, a place of no fear, a place of joy, a place of cheer … .”
In an emotional tribute by Greg Jones, her junior high band director, Rachel was remembered as funny, spiritual and academically gifted. Also describing her as “a young woman of faith, integrity and wisdom,” Jones added, “She is the person we would all like to be … .We must follow her example; we must be Christlike.”
Also speaking at the memorial service, Arkansas Baptist State Convention President Greg Kirksey said Rachel was known as a young person who was able to “see the big picture” in life.
“That’s what we all need to do. That’s what God will enable us to do,” Kirksey said. “How did she see the big picture? The eyes of her heart knew the presence of God.”
Although Rachel’s death “seems painfully premature,” Kirksey added, “Death is not an exit as much as it is an entrance. It is not an ending as much as a beginning.”
Affirming God’s presence, plan and power, he concluded, “Rachel is really seeing the big picture now. She is experiencing the big picture. She is living in the big picture.”
In addition to her parents and sisters, Rachel is survived by her grandparents, H.Y. and Alice Odom of Grand Prairie, Texas, and C.H. and Edna Fuller of North Little Rock. Memorials may be made to the Rachel Fuller Memorial Scholarship Fund at Ouachita.

    About the Author

  • Trennis Henderson

    Trennis Henderson is the national correspondent for WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union). A Baptist journalist for more than 35 years, Henderson is a former editor of the Western Recorder of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Arkansas Baptist News state convention newsjournal.

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