The lines extended into the parking lot at North Columbia Baptist Church as hundreds turned out to mourn the death of Gentry Terrell Monday evening.
The community had rallied around the 6-year-old and her family, including parents Amy and Brydon Terrell, as she fought DIPG, a rare and inoperable brain tumor. She began radiation therapy in January, and Gentry battled the cancer for eight months before succumbing to it Friday.
The funeral was Tuesday at North Columbia Baptist Church before Gentry was taken to her final resting place at the Improve Baptist Church Cemetery.
Amy Terrell wrote on Facebook after the visitation to express thanks for the community support.
“We are blessed beyond measure,” she wrote. “The outpouring of love that our family has received is truly overwhelming. We thank each and every person who took time from their daily agenda and spent time loving on us. Wonderful sentiments, students and former students, friends, neighbors, coworkers, strangers all filed in to pay their respects to an amazing little girl who brought so much joy to everyone’s lives and a little girl who brought so many people together.”
On Friday, shortly after Gentry’s death, Amy Terrell posted on Facebook, saying “my angel is finally at peace.”
“Although we swapped out holding Gentry all day, I was so blessed to be holding her when she took her final breath,” she wrote. “It was so special that I watched her and held her when she took her first and last breaths. I don’t know why this is our journey. The physical pain is unbearable at times.”
Throughout young Gentry’s battle, the community rallied around her and her family. In February, thousands packed the Columbia Expo Center for Gentry Day to raise funds to help the Terrells and a day where Gentry was the star of the show.
Gentry’s death so impacted the community that the Columbia Police Department postponed its Hope and Recovery Town Hall event scheduled for Monday.
“As many of you know, this past Friday afternoon our community experienced a great loss, Gentry Terrell,” Chief Michael Kelly said in a letter announcing the postponement. “Gentry united our community in prayer, her smile was infectious, and the faith of her family a true testament and encouragement to all who walk through dark uncertain days. To the Terrell family: Brydon, Amy, Wyatt and Waylon, you are in our thoughts and prayers. May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you in the days to come.”
Amy Terrell continued and thanked everyone for the support.
“We feel so loved and we are so thankful Gentry was so loved too,” she wrote. “In the past seven months, we have faced many nights full of tears and uncertainty. The fear of the unknown and the uncanny amount of uncertainty that comes with this diagnosis was exhausting. Even knowing God’s will was going to be done, it was hard to get our heads and hearts to understand and process what that meant. Following God’s will and allowing God to work through our journey meant our family would suffer a physical hole. The pain of separation is beyond belief sometimes.
“I absolutely do not know how people face tragedy and loss without having faith. At times, my salvation is my only solace. I know that this is not good bye; I will see my baby again when I pass away from this life. I may not ever see the fruit of this journey, but I pray that even one lost person finds salvation through Gentry’s story. Please continue to pray for us as we learn to manage with a giant hole. Thank you again everyone. We are blessed to be from a small town. We are blessed to know almost everyone. Now, more than ever, Columbia holds my heart.”
Pictured Above: A large crowd gathered outside North Columbia Baptist Church Monday evening at the visitation for Gentry Terrell. Her funeral was held Tuesday afternoon. | Photo by Mark Rogers