‘We will see you in glory’

Published 8:04 am Wednesday, January 14, 2009

FRANKLIN—They stood tall. They stood strong. They assured everyone in the audience that they were all right. And they said their faith was unshaken.

That was the inspiring message from the parents of 4-year-old Jameer Khamarie Woodley, part of Tuesday’s uplifting homegoing celebration for their son.

“I’m not going to stop my praise,” LaKisha Woodley said to the thunderous applause of about 1,000 people packed inside Apostolic Faith Church of God. “Timothy Leon Woodley Jr., and Jameer Khamarie Woodley, Mama, Daddy, brothers, aunts, uncles, godparents, everybody — we will see you in glory.”

Jameer, a pre-kindergarten student at Riverdale Elementary School nicknamed “Me-Me,” was struck and killed by a school bus behind the school on Friday.

Floral arrangements, some festooned with teddy bears, lined the edge of the sweeping stage from one side of the church to the other, and covered Jameer’s small white casket, which was front and center.

Congregations from around the region came with their ministers, some of whom were on stage as a choir. Also on the stage were members of the Southampton County school board. Numerous condolences were read to the audience, which was in full exhaltation.

Bishop William Scott of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, LaKisha Woodley’s uncle, gave the eulogy.

“Even in the midst of crises, we need to remember to put God first,” Scott said. “Keep him in the forefront of your life. Keep him in the priority. Don’t let this tragedy cause splits and beams in the community. Remember we’re still all one people, and we need each other.”

LaKisha Woodley said afterwards, “for those who know me and my husband, you know that this is not our first, but our second child (that we have lost). I want everybody to know we’re going to be all right. We will have our moments. But rest assured, my household is a household of fighters. God, he gave me strength, and he’s going to give my family strength.”

The family lost another son, 3-year-old Timothy Leon Woodley Jr., on Feb. 2, 2004.

Timothy Woodley, Jameer’s father, said “all men that are here today, be there with your kids. Be involved.”

The accident is under investigation by the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office. It was announced during Monday night’s school board meeting that Southampton County Public Schools would also be conducting their own investigation.

According to a news release from the sheriff’s office, police investigators were talking to eyewitnesses and collecting forensic evidence.

The sheriff’s office said deputies responded to the accident at 8:05 a.m., and that members of the Franklin Fire and Rescue Department were also called to the scene. When emergency crews arrived, they determined that Woodley had died as a result of the injuries he sustained from the accident.

“Any loss of life is a tragedy, and the loss of a child under any circumstances is especially tragic,” Southampton County Sheriff Vernie Francis said in a written statement. “The Woodley family and the families of those involved are in our thoughts and prayers.”

An instant alert message was sent out to Riverdale parents on Sunday evening, announcing that the school would be closed on Tuesday for Woodley’s funeral.

“Crisis counselors returned to Riverdale Elementary today and will continue their presence on-site as long as needed,” Superintendent Charles Turner said during Monday evening’s school board meeting. “The entire Southampton County Public School System would like to keep the family in their thoughts and prayers.”

The school board also observed a moment of silence for Woodley.

Turner said after the meeting that the school board “will conduct its own investigation into the accident.”

Meanwhile, Southampton County authorities said Monday that no charges were pending against the driver of the school bus that struck and killed Woodley.