Monday, January 5, 2015

My cousin Renee

I've mentioned before that I still milk cows on my aunt and uncle's farm, just south of Gettysburg. It was my first job durin' high school, and I've been there goin' on 14 years. I enjoy the solitude of the parlor, it's nice to have the supplemental pay, and it gives the other milkers a break. My ol' man's sister married into the farm, and it's run almost entirely by family, so everyone gets along well.

Durin' my 14 years there, I've become very close with my aunt and uncle, prolly closer than anyone else outside of my immediate family. They've taken care of me as readily as they do their own children, and I've taken in many meals and had many hours of comfortable sleep on the couch or in the spare bedroom over the years.

In the wee hours of December 14th, their youngest daughter and my cousin Renee, died after wrecking her truck just a few short miles from home. While we may never know exactly what happened, we do know that she was sober, wearin' her seat belt, doin' around the speed limit, and was not on her phone at the time of the accident. Best guess is that she fell asleep at the wheel, which is somethin' that damn near all of us can be convicted of.

There were 11 years between Renee and I, so we weren't particularly close. However, she also milked on the farm and I spent many hours hangin' out at the house, so we had a good, functionin' relationship.

Needless to say, it's been purty rough and rocky around these parts the last few weeks. I've been doin' my best to be there for my aunt and uncle, while tryin' to sort out my own emotions about the whole thing. Renee was also pickin' up more and more of the milkin' shifts, so with her gone and her mother grievin', plus another part-time milker out on maternity leave, the twice-a-day milkin' schedule fell on me and another aunt. Also factor in the services and recent holiday gatherin's, plus all of my other committments, and you got one wore-out Bear with not a lotta free time as of late.

We're slowly adjustin' to the new normal, and hopefully in a few weeks I will be back on a somewhat sane schedule. In the meantime, we're left to adjust to another searin' wound in our family tree, which has seen no shortage of Christmastime tragedies over the years.

On the positive side, the outpourin' of support from our local community has just been amazin'. There's been vigils, memorial services at her favorite activities, and several varieties of fundraisers from friends, local businesses, and even complete strangers. Hundreds of folks have pitched in to many of these activities, and my aunt and uncle have just been in awe of how many people their daughter really affected. With so many donations comin' in from different places, they are in the process of settin' up a memorial fund in Renee's name.

I'll leave you with the obit...

* * *

Renee Alexandra Clowney, 20, of Gettysburg, entered into God’s eternal care on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, as a result of a vehicle accident south of Gettysburg.

Born Nov. 16, 1994, in Hanover, she was the daughter of John M. and Peggy C. (Murren) Clowney of Gettysburg.

She was a 2013 graduate of Gettysburg Area High School, where she was a member of the Battlefield Chapter of Future Farmers of America, and was an 11-year member of Adams County 4-H.

She was employed as a farmer at the family dairy operation, Lagging Stream Farm in Cumberland Township, and at Kilwin’s of Gettysburg.

She was a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church of Gettysburg.

Renee was a pickup-driving, camo-wearing, line-dancing country girl. She was also sweet and kind and just the right amount of goofy, a dear and loving friend to so many young people who now grieve for her.
She loved every animal large and small, from the latest litter of farm kittens to her half-ton Holsteins. She especially loved her brother’s dog, Harvey; the family cat, Madison, and her dairy cows, Larissa, Lily, Loretta, Laurel, Lilac, Neena, Nora, Nova, Savanna, Sera, Storm, Spark, Swift, Shine, Sammi and Gale.
She is survived by one sister, Amanda K. (Clowney) Roser and husband, Adam, of Gettysburg; a brother, David T. Clowney of Gettysburg; and her dear baby nephew, Brantley W. Roser. She was predeceased by a sister, April E. Clowney.

She is also survived by her maternal grandmother, Marion A. (Sprenkle) Murren of Hanover; her paternal grandparents, Thomas and Joanne (Weiss) Clowney of Gettysburg. Renee is also survived by her paternal aunts and uncles, Robert Clowney and wife Charlotte of Gettysburg; Diane Simonson and husband Geoff of Warrenton, Va.; Donna Scott and husband Dennis, of Gardners, and Carol Nell and husband Ray, of Gettysburg, and her maternal aunts and uncles, Anthony Murren and wife Joy, of McSherrystown; Angela Murren of Hanover; Wanda Murren and husband Darrell Crabbs Sr., of Spring Grove; Terrence Murren and wife Patty of New Oxford; Ann Murren and companion Steve Carroll of Kenneth City, Fla., and Barbara Garman of Carlisle.

She was also predeceased by her maternal grandfather, Thomas Murren, by her aunts, Kathryn (Murren) Hippensteel and Susan (Murren) Roth, and her cousin, K. Benjamin Smith.

She was the “baby cousin” to both families and her many cousins will miss and love her forever.

The service will be Thursday, Dec. 18, meeting at the Murphy Funeral Home, 501 Ridge Ave., McSherrystown, at 9 a.m. to proceed to St. Francis Xavier Historic Church, 25 W. High St., Gettysburg, for a Mass of Christian burial at 10 a.m.. Burial will be in St. Francis Xavier Cemetery, High Street, Gettysburg.

The family will receive friends and relatives at the Murphy Funeral Home, McSherrystown, on Wednesday, Dec. 17, from 5-8 p.m. with prayers at 8 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to 4-H Clubs of Adams County, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325, or to the Adams County SPCA, 11 Goldenville Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325.


  1. Very tragic. Condolences to you and yours.

  2. What lemmiwinks said.

    Thoughts and prayers...