Wife, church family react to beloved pastor's sudden death

Wife, church family reacts to beloved pastor's sudden death
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

HAYTI, MO (KAIT) - A Hayti church pastor, his wife, and their son were involved in a fatal car crash less than two weeks ago, shocking their congregation.

Leo House III, pastor of the Hayti First United Methodist Church, died instantly in the crash while his wife and son survived.

With bruises, scrapes and emotional pain to endure,  Cindi House fought back tears while speaking with Region 8 News about the dreams her husband left behind.

"I knew here, but I didn't know here," Cindi said, indicating she knew in her mind that he was gone, but did not want to believe it with her heart.

The widow vividly remembers the night her husband was killed as she sat next to him in the passenger seat screaming for help.

"There was no way he could have survived that," she said. "I sat there and held his head up for 30 minutes. I was told he died instantly, so there was no pain."

Many members of the church continue to mourn the loss of Pastor Leo, who served 5 years of his life supporting the church.

They wonder what comes next, saying Sunday morning services will not be the same.

"Things will be discussed, plans will be made, but we've all been in shock," longtime church member Debbie Swan said. "We're just trying to find where we are and what happens next."

Cindi is learning day by day to accept that her husband is gone for good, but that does not mean his dreams get buried also.

"I know he's not coming back, but I do not want his dreams for this church to die with him," she said.

Their last conversation before impact was about unifying youth in the community, not just their church youth group, but all young people in Hayti.

"You know this youth group or that youth group, he wanted it as one, one youth group for Hayti," Cindi said. "That was his biggest dream. I know I'm going to push to continue that."

Although family, friends, and members of the church miss Pastor Leo, Cindi said they are finding room to rejoice.

"He's now in the arms of Jesus, and he's happy," she said.

The church will go on, with a new pastor starting this week.

Cindi said a church member who owns the John W. German Funeral Home in town paid for all of her husband's funeral costs.

"I'm so blessed," Cindi said.

She said every church member has been supportive during this time.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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Posted by Region 8 News on Monday, July 25, 2016

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