Young Parents and 2-Year-Old Son Killed in Tenn. Tornado Were ‘Genuinely Great People’
Joshua and Erin Kimberlin died alongside their toddler son Sawyer
A young couple and their 2-year-old son were among the at least 24 people killed Tuesday in Tennessee after a tornado leveled their home.
Joshua and Erin Kimberlin were killed alongside their 2-year-old son Sawyer at their home in Cookeville, a Putnam County town about 80 miles east of Nashville, according to The Tennessean.
“They were genuinely great people,” Art Mattson, who watched Erin grow up and officiated the couple’s wedding, told the outlet. “They were just a wonderful blessing for us, and their loss is just devastating for our congregation and the community.”
Erin’s father Rodney Pitts is reportedly a pastor at Church of Christ at Colonial Estates, and both Joshua, 30, and Erin, 29, taught children’s Bible classes at the church.
Pitts remembered his daughter, a stay-at-home mom and former teacher, as “all business,” while his son-in-law, a mechanical engineer who worked at a local automation company, was more “laid back.”
“He caused her to tone it down. She caused him to make plans,” Pitts told The Tennessean.
The pastor said that his grandson Sawyer lovingly referred to him as “Mumps,” and his grandmother as “Mammy,” since he was unable to properly pronounce grandma and grandpa.
“I can’t believe there’s not a day that he won’t come in and he won’t say, ‘Mumps’ to me,” said Pitts. “It’s hard to believe they’re just memories now.”
Sawyer’s obituary said that the toddler “passed from this life… in the arms of his Mom and Dad, protected by both of them.”
It also noted that he loved congregational singing, especially the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and even had his own podium, pitch pipe, microphone and songbook.
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Erin’s obituary said she was “known for always having a plan,” and that she was “loved by everyone that knew her.”
Joshua, meanwhile, was described as an avid fisherman and a “kid at heart” who loved making people laugh.
Members of the church organized a GoFundMe for the family’s funeral expenses, which has so far raised more than $53,000.
Twenty-four people were killed across the state early Tuesday after tornadoes destroyed buildings and downed multiple power lines, CNN reported.
The Kimberlin family was among 18 people dead in Putnam County alone, according to National Weather Service Nashville.
Other victims of the tornadoes include Donna and James Eaton, an elderly couple who reportedly died “side-by-side” after the tornado hit their Mt. Juliet home, and a 4-year-old girl also killed in Cookeville.