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March 19, 2013

Family, community brave weather to honor teen’s life

No Life Forgotten holds memorial for Tara Willenborg

CLARKSVILLE — A cold Sunday afternoon filled with rain and snow set the tone for a somber remembrance of a teenager’s life taken too soon.

The Downtown Clergy of Jeffersonville and of No Life Forgotten gathered at the entrance of Cambridge Square Apartments to remember 17-year-old Tara Willenborg, who was murdered in her apartment March 2.  

The Rev. Jennifer Mills-Knutsen of St. Luke’s United Church of Christ shared stories of Willenborg, who with her family attended service at St. Luke’s every Sunday. Mills-Knutsen knew Willenborg since she was 10. Leading the service was personal for Mills-Knutsen, because Willenborg was part of her congregation and “like family.”

“She had this dream of baking cupcakes, and opening her own cupcake shop someday,” Mills-Knutsen said. “We got to have that on Saturday nights, because she would make cupcakes, and sometimes early before church she would make cupcakes. She would come walking over to the church carrying loads for all of us to share.”

She added that she witnessed Willenborg make her profession to God, and during the confirmation, Mills-Knutsen told her that God would always be with her.

After the service, Mills-Knutsen shared that Willenborg had had a bright future, and she always had a bright smile that matched her great sense of style and art. 

“She brought beauty to the world. Everything she did, she tried to make it more beautiful,” said Mills-Knutsen. 

The 15-minute memorial service was a quiet time of prayer for the victim, her family, the community, those in authority of public safety, appointed officials and finally the suspect, Richard Hooten.

“It’s what Christians do. Part of it is to pray, and it’s prayer for the world, and that’s why we gathered here. Because prayer is one response that we can make to horrific evil,” said Nancy Woodworth-Hill, co-pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

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