DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — When the annual Tree of Angels ceremony concludes Dec. 7, at least seven more names will hang from the tree.
“It’s been a rough period,” said Cindy Westbrook, an organizer for the local Tree of Angels. “It looks like we’ll have six, maybe seven, more names for the tree this year.”
That’s not good news. The Tree of Angels serves as a memorial for people who have lost their lives because of violence.
WHAT: Tree of Angels ceremony
WHEN: 4 p.m. Dec. 7
WHERE: Marble Falls Church of Christ, 711 Broadway in Marble Falls
The ceremony, which will be held at the Marble Falls Church of Christ, 711 Broadway in Marble Falls, is open to the public. In fact, Westbrook encourages people to attend as it is is an opportunity to honor those who lost their lives, support the surviving family members and usher in a sense of community healing. Each of the names on the tree is one less person who can offer the world his or her talents and love.
The doors open at 4 p.m. with the ceremony starting at 5 p.m.
This year, the guest speaker is Hector Gomez of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Westbrook said Gomez was a “primary player” in the arrest of Paul Devoe, a man charged with killing six people in 2007 including Marble Falls bartender Michael Allred.
Allred’s ornament was added to the Tree of Angels during the 2008 ceremony.
“We’re just thrilled to have Hector coming here,” Westbrook said.
Some of the names being added to the Tree of Angels this year include Bonnie Harker and Karen Johnson (San Saba County murder victims), Sophia Page (who died in a San Saba County vehicle accident), Paydin Grogg (a Llano County toddler who allegedly died from child abuse) and Farest Elmo Reed (an 85-year-old Burnet County man whose grandson is charged with murdering him).
Westbrook explained the Tree of Angels allows victims’ relatives and the community to gather to honor and remember those who died.
“It’s a very somber experience,” Westbrook said. “But one that, I think, we need. You know, we need to remember the victims. Often, we spend so much time on the (perpetrator) that we tend to forget the victims.”
While the ceremony lasts only a few hours Dec. 7, people can visit the Tree of Angels starting Dec. 9 at Marble Falls City Hall, 800 Third St., where it will be in “repose” until the end of the year.
“We just want people to take time to remember those who are no longer with us,” Westbrook added.