Funeral Preparations

By: Nichole Vrsansky
By: Nichole Vrsansky

Preparations for Thursday's visitation and Friday's funeral services went on all day Friday. From downtown to the elementary school, the entire community is showing its respects for Lance Corporal Neil Petsche.

Many the boys who were instrumental in Neil Petsche’s life are fellow band members, others fellow Boy Scout members, some just friends. Friday will be the first time the group performs together. It's their way of honoring a fallen friend.

"It's the only way I could give back and I wouldn't be anywhere else in the world today than with Neil and his family," says Mike Rundall, who was in the Boy Scouts with Petsche.

"All the stuff he did for me and for everybody and I know how much of hero his is to me and everyone around him. He's going to inspire a lot of people," adds friend, Jacob Werkheiser.

Petsche's love of band inspired his family to ask band director Scott Stich to organize the ensemble for the funeral services, but Stich says it seems a bit out of tune without Petsche on the drums.

"That'll be the weirdest part about the whole thing. I can still see him smiling, playing the drums. He was a real good kid, a real giver; I think that's what we'll miss about him," says Stich.

The entire Lena community is remembering just that; the bravery of a local boy who gave his life for his country.

Downtown, yellow ribbons line Main Street. Some stores have tributes to Neil Petsche in their windows. Many store owners plan on closing early Friday to attend the funeral.

"I think the business community, the whole entire community, is proud of him because he went back to Iraq to try to finish the job," says Ruth Maedge, owner of Lena Mercantile Company.

And now community members and friends say it's their job to join together and show how much they appreciate what Petsche did.

After Friday morning's visitation, there will be a funeral service at noon. Both services will be held at Lena-Winslow Elementary School.

23 WIFR 2523 North Meridian Road Rockford, IL. 61101 Business: 815-987-5300 Fax: 815-965-0981 News: 815-987-5330 Fax: 815-987-5333
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