Approximately 200 people attended a prayer vigil Thursday night for a Hinesville family devastated by an April 5 fire that destroyed their home and claimed the lives of three members — Rosa Pearl Strickland, Annie Lorene Grigsby and Carl Edward Strickland.
The family had lived in the Gause Street home for decades.
Rosa Strickland, 82, worked as a beautician and as a nutritionist for the Liberty County School System for year before retiring.
Her daughter, Annie Lorene Grigsby, was a cosmetologist until she became caretaker for her mother and uncle brother, Carl Strickland, who owned Strickland Upholstery until he retired.
All three were loved, those who knew them said. Grigsby’s son, Rashad Grigsby, called them “beautiful.”
“Thank you for all your prayers and constant worries for me and my family,” he said. “If you know the three people who lived in that home in any respect, you know that they were all very, very, very beautiful people, wonderful people. They had a lot to do with the person I am today, specifically my mother, she took extremely good care of me.”
“Thank you all for coming out tonight,” he said. “My prayers are with you and your family, thank you for being with me and my family.”
Liberty County District 5 Commissioner Gary Gilliard, who grew up just around the corner from the Strickland house, said it was always a haven for children in the neighborhood.
“They are a loving, caring family, from the matriarch Mrs. Clifford, who passed several years ago, to the son that died two years ago, to the family members that perished in the fire last week, to the ones that are still here,” Gilliard said. “My mama’s house was the place to be on Rebecca Street and around the corner on Gause, everyone went to Mrs. Clifford’s house because we all felt welcomed.”
Firefighters were called out to the home around 9:30 p.m. April 5 and reached it within a minute, but the structure was already about 80 percent involved when they arrived, according to Hinesville Fire Department Public Information Officer Capt. Robert Kitchings.
The age of the old wooden home made the fire difficult to extinguish and it took two hours to get the fire under control.
Though the cause of the fire is still under investigation, authorities said there is no sign of foul play.
In the meantime, Gilliard continues to seek donations for the family to help them offset funeral expenses.
“The Strickland and Taylor families did not ask us for this, I asked them to let us do this vigil/fundraiser and we did,” he wrote in a guest column that is in today’s Courier. “I’ve attended church with them, worked with them, went to school with them, I love them, and even now I still grieve with them.”
Contact Gilliard at 912-977-3527 for more information or to donate.