Family, friends mourn

Mother and son who died in ice accident remembered

Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2000

The mood at the funeral of Luann Spiech and her son Kelvin mirrored the afternoon outside: overcast, with the sun repeatedly trying to break through.

Spiech, 34, drowned last Monday while trying to rescue her son, 10, from an icy pond off North Douglas Highway.

It was standing room only Saturday afternoon at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, where Luann and Kelvin had been parishioners. Mourners spilled out onto the front walk.

Speakers included Patrick Moore, Kelvin's fifth-grade teacher at Harborview Elementary. Thinking of his 3-month-old daughter as well as Kelvin, Moore said he knew now that ``the length of a person's life has nothing to do with the impact of that life upon us.''

Many parents in attendance seemed to snuggle their toddlers extra close as the funeral service began with the reading of a poem, ``Two'': ``Two who danced with nature/Two who grew and loved/Two who learned and lived . . . /We miss you, we love you forever.''

Sam Skaggs, Luann's colleague at Juneau Community Charter School, wore a wild iris in his buttonhole in her honor. He noted the iris is a symbol of valor associated with the Fields of Elysium - in Greek mythology, the dwelling place of virtuous people after death.

Luann's music students at the charter school were asked to share memories, and Skaggs noted their writings repeatedly mentioned the same qualities: humor, willingness to lend a hand, kindness, a beautiful voice, a smile and ``her upbeat `we can do this' attitude.''

One fourth grader wrote, ``She made that lonely music room at the school come alive. Kelvin made me laugh so hard. He always had a joke or he made one out of the situation. I wish they could have stayed on Earth longer.''

Another student wrote, ``If some fun was going on at the school, (Luann) was at the center of it.''

An adult wrote, ``I know she breathed oxygen, but she exhaled happiness and a love of life.''

Another wrote that ``her irreplaceable music seemed to drift off the school's walls.''

The Rev. Larry Rorem, who officiated at the 1995 wedding of Luann and Todd Spiech, talked to those at the service about ``thoughts of the real possibility that it could have been our mate or our child lost in the cold waters.'' He spoke of other thoughts: ``disbelief, anger, pain, despair and sorrow.''

``There is no right way for us to heal. There are no easy answers,'' Rorem added. ``Two lives that meant so much to us are no longer in our midst.''

Rorem quoted from his words at their marriage service: ``You are both unique creations of God who have a special place in the hearts of those here . . . those words apply today.''

Rorem also recalled the anonymous man who had seen Luann playing the piano at the church and sent a dozen roses with a note reading, ``I admire the music and your smile.'' The admirer was Todd Spiech.

Kelvin always sat in a chair beside his mother as she played, Rorem said, and for that reason the chair and piano were decorated in their honor for Saturday's service.

Rorem asked the mourners to focus on the fact that their memories of these two ``caring, loving people'' were ``very much alive,'' and to remember what Todd Spiech had said about their death certificates:

``They should have read `to be continued.'''



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