Basehor crash victims mourned
When 3-year-old Katie Brandenburg heard news that her great-grandfather, Joseph Brandenburg Sr. of Basehor, had died, she told family members that she knew her grandfather was living happily in heaven. She also said that her grandpa "would have to build a big house in heaven so that one day we could all be together with him again."
Judging by the kind words attributed to Brandenburg and his wife, Frances, it would indeed take a spacious home to one day reunite them with friends and family. They were loved by many and will be missed by all, friends and family said during a Monday morning funeral service at Haven Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kan.
Joseph and Frances Brandenburg died Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005, when their car was struck about 10:55 a.m. by a dump truck on U.S. Highway 24/40. He was 89 years old and she was 80. The Kansas Highway Patrol said Brandenburg failed to yield as he drove north across the highway on 150th Street into the path of an eastbound dump truck.
After impact, both vehicles spun into the north ditch along the highway.
Iris Dysart, the site manager at Hickory Villa senior center in Basehor, said her friends were on their way Thursday to have lunch at the senior center. The Brandenburgs, who met at Hickory Villa approximately 10 years ago, were part of the Hickory Villa community and made a point to eat and visit with residents there daily.
"I would say they were the salt of the Earth," Dysart said. "They were just a very good Christian couple."
She added "there are a lot of really sad people here : they are really going to be missed."
Pastor Sandy Seaba praised the couple during the funeral service. He called Joseph "a gentleman and a wonderful saint."
"He was one of the finest men I've ever met on the face of this Earth," Seaba said. Just as deep was his affection for Frances, a woman who "was just like a mother to me."
"She loved everybody," he said. "I never heard her say anything bad about anybody."
Joseph and Frances, having each lost a spouse years before, had found each other in the winter of their lives. They loved each other deeply, Seaba said, and that notion was reinforced when Joseph assumed primary care-giving responsibilities for his wife, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
While the disease strained the two, Seaba said he saw the couple's inner strength spring forward as they battled it day to day.
"I thank God (Joseph) took care of one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met," Seaba said. He was also amazed that Frances, like her husband, a deeply religious person and a "soul winner," was able to remember Christian hymns by heart while beset by the disease.
"She would say over and over to me that (entry into heaven) is not by religion - it's by a personal faith in Jesus Christ," Seaba said. "She had it."
In an emotional tribute, children of the couple also spoke of their parents Monday.
Joseph Brandenburg Jr. said his father was strong in body and spirit. His father, an honest, hardworking and loving man, was the epitome of the Greatest Generation.
Cathy Merritt, Frances Brandenburg's daughter, said his mother held the same principles.
Brandenburg said his father cared for his first wife, Edna Mamie, whom he was married to for 49 years, with the same compassion he did Frances.
"He wanted the 50th but didn't quite make it," his son said. "He took care of her as he vowed." When Frances was ill, he never hesitated in lavishing her with the same attention.
"Once again my dad cared for his wife night and day," Brandenburg said.
Merritt said her mother showed a great zeal for life. She loved God, her family, cooking, dancing and to play music.
"She had a great sense of humor and a sunny disposition," Merritt said.
Both Joseph and Frances exemplified faith, hope and love, or three things that last, Merritt said.