Lacee Shupe, who grew up from a “cute little dancer to a beautiful country girl,” was remembered by friends Saturday as someone who could light up a room with her smile.
Nearly 400 mourners packed Valley Christian Fellowship to honor Lacee, 22, who died July 1 of injuries she received in a disturbance at her Cold Springs home.
Rather than dwell on her death, friends chose to celebrate her life in a memorial service officiated by Pastor Leo Kruger.
“There are many mysteries in this life we may not have answers for, but we can trust in the things we know to be true,” Kruger said. “We have solid hope that has so much substance to it, we can trust our life on it.”
He quoted Hebrews 13, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
“The hope is just as real today as when Jesus first spoke it,” Kruger said.
With love and laughter, Lacee’s friends and family offered glimpses of her brief life.
“Look at everyone here,” said Courtney Kemp. “Lacee would be laughing at us, at everyone in their dark clothes. She would want us in hot pink and stilettos. Don’t be sad. She wouldn’t want you to be sad.”
Kali Evanson Mann, who graduated with Lacee in 2009 from Douglas High School, wore her FFA jacket to honor her friend.
“Lacee was such a treat to be around,” she said. “She had a fire inside of her, the fire of life.”
Mann said one of her favorite memories occurred when she and Lacee received agriculture scholarships at graduation awards night.
“We walked up together, and she took my hand. That was Lacee, she would hold on to your heart and grab your hand.”
Mark Gruver, another FFA member, said he and Lacee were supposed to be practicing for the state finals in the FFA agriculture issues team.
“All the other teams are practicing, and all she wants to do is sing,” Gruver said.
Classmate Marianne Gardner said she and Lacee were close friends at school. “She was always in my prayers, so special to me,” Gardner said. “It will be my hope and joy to see her again. I know where she is. She is not lost to us. She is with the Lord.”
Rachel Kennedy recalled Lacee’s “amazing laugh.”
“It was so contagious,” Kennedy said. “I loved her, and I am going to miss her.”
She met Lacee through mutual friends.
“They brought her over, and I claimed her for myself. Once you met her, she could bring you to tears within seconds — tears of laughter. All eyes were on her. She made everything better. She was always up for an adventure. She WAS the adventure,” Kennedy said.
Kruger said one of the most difficult tasks was to let a loved one go.
He asked everyone to stand, hold hands, and pray “to release Lacee to the Lord, to His care.”
“Our memories will never go away,” Kruger said.
Pictures of Lacee as she changed from ballerina to cowgirl, colorful bandanas, and a quilt made of faded blue jeans decorated the church. The service was delayed about 15 minutes to accommodate the overflow crowd.
Lacee’s cousin, Brandon Shupe, struggled to maintain composure as he thanked the community for support.
“You talk about her like she was family to you. That’s what she wanted. She was the fiery red head. I watched her grow up from cute little dancer to beautiful country girl. She was amazing, everything we should strive to be,” Shupe said.