Samtavius Bussey holds a family portrait showing his father, the Rev. Samuel Bussey, and his stepsisters Eugenia and Antis'cia Marshall, who died in a fire in their King Villa home a year ago. Samuel Bussey is survived by: his sisters Jacqueline Parks (back, from left) and Sherrell Parks; his wife, Charon Bussey; his father, Roscoe Bussey; his mother, Willie Bell Bussey; his sister Gloria McCord; and nephews Jamal Parks (front, from left), Deshawn Dunn and Malcolm McCord.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
When Willie Bell Bussey remembers her son, the late Rev. Samuel D. Bussey, she said, she thinks about John 15:13 in the Bible: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend."
"He gave his life for all," Mrs. Bussey said.
It's been just more than a year since Samuel, 36, and his two stepdaughters, Eugenia S. Marshall, 10, and Antis'cia Marshall, 13, died when their Appling home caught fire on March 23, 2004. A spokesman for the State Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner's Office said the accidental fire was caused by a wood-burning stove.
The night of the fire, Willie said, her son woke up his wife, Charon Bussey, and rushed her outside, where she was later found lying unconscious. He then rushed back into the house to get his son, Samtavius, 5. Thinking that everyone was out of the house safely, Willie said, her son got a water hose, trying to extinguish the fire. After he realized that his two stepdaughters were still inside the home, she said, he attempted to reenter the home. But his rescue was unsuccessful.
"He was found lying on Genia near the front door of the house," Jackie Bussey said, adding that she thinks her brother was determined to do everything he could to bring his family out safely. "He almost made it, but he was a little short."
Charon said her daughter, Antis'cia, was later found by firefighters, kneeling by her bed.
Despite the fire, family members say the memory of their loved ones still lives on with the help of family stories, pictures and videos.
"Samtavius is just like his daddy," Charon said.
Willie said she copes with the loss one day at a time.
"The more I talk about it, the better I feel," she said with a smile.
These days, Samtavius said he has accepted the fact that his family is gone, but he still misses them.
"I miss going fishing with my daddy," he said.
Samtavius now stays with his mother, Charon, in her Evans home.
And although the family still feels pain over the loss of their loved ones, Charon said she now sees the loss as part of God's plan.
"God had a purpose for keeping me and Samtavius here," she said.
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