Tornado victim's legacy lives on in Pendleton County - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Tornado victim's legacy lives on in Pendleton County

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PENDLETON COUNTY, KY (FOX19) -

A Pendleton County woman killed in Friday's severe weather is remembered for her contributions to the community.

"I just wanted everyone to know how much she loved her little girls and how much she is loved and missed," said Carla Pyron, sister of Courtney Stephenson.

Stephenson was on her way home from a cancer treatment Friday in Indianapolis when she got caught in the path of a tornado.

"It's like a nightmare or a dream, just wondering if it's real," church friend Brenda Campbell said. "Or if it's maybe a mistake."

"It's a horrible, horrible shock and I pray no one else ever has to live through something like that," Pyron said. "Ours was a unique situation in that we had already begun grieving Courtney for three years."

Pyron says her sister Courtney was battling stage four breast cancer.

"She said, ‘Well the doctor says it's benign it'll be OK,'" Pyron recalled.  "Five years later it wasn't benign so I would say get them all checked out be very aggressive with your own health."

"She of course was a great advocate for everyone to be tested and especially being under the age of 40 when it was detected," Campbell echoed.

As family and friends remember Stephenson through pictures and other images of her life, her legacy has only just begun to be captured through her work in Pendleton County.

"In her life I know of three major loves," Library Board President  Patrick Clore said. "Family, religion and the Pendleton County library."

As a library board member, Stephenson helped to make the new library a reality. Tuesday her memory was honored at the groundbreaking by the presence of a golden shovel.

"This building will constantly remind all of you and all of us in Kentucky how important it was to her and to the future of her children and your children," Kentucky's first lady Jane Beshear said.

"This is a bitter-sweet day," Beshear recognized. "The destruction that took place in our state on Friday is just incredible."

Even more than her work with the library board, or in the school system, or her volunteer hours at church and with the Girl Scouts, Carla says her sister's legacy lives on in her two little girls.

"They look so much like her," Carla said. "I see her in their eyes every time I look at them. That will be a beautiful legacy as they grow up, watching them grow."

Carla says Courtney learned through her battle with cancer that you cannot take a single moment for granted.

"Go home and hug your children," Pyron urged. "Kiss them every day. Do something special every day. Don't sweat the small stuff and really, really do everything you can to enjoy life and tell those you love them."

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