Waun Carney was remembered Tuesday as a loving mother who gave her last ounce of love to her family.
"Not everyone dies as a hero. Let it be known my mom did," said Theresa Carney, 18, who was saved from a fast-moving house fire by her mother. The fire claimed the lives of Theresa's mother, two sisters and brother.
Mrs. Carney was the "glue that held everyone together," her sister said, and she spent her last moments trying to save her children from the inferno inside their Niles Avenue home in Hamburg on Thursday evening.
The 43-year-old woman and her children Patricia C., 16; Diane L., 14; and James R. Jr., 3, died from smoke inhalation. The accidental fire was accelerated, authorities said, by a liquid oxygen cylinder serving Jimmy Jr. in his crib.
Her husband, James R., tried to prevent the fire from spreading by running outside with curtains that had ignited. Intense flames prevented him from getting back into the house.
"Jim and Waun did everything humanly possible to save the lives of their children," the Rev. Miecyslaw F. Nycz, parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, said during funeral services for the family Tuesday morning.
He told how Mrs. Carney saved Theresa by pushing her out a second-story window.
"We are a people of hope. Hope has been given to us by our faith," Nycz said during his homily. "There are times it is good to be in silence. Where we are lacking words, God is speaking."
Hundreds of mourners filled the church, including family, friends and co-workers of Mrs. Carney from Jubilee supermarket in Blasdell, and classmates of Diane and Patricia from Orchard Park Middle School and High School.
Members of the Newton Abbott Volunteer Fire Company, who responded to the fire, formed an honor guard at the church and served as pallbearers.
Students from Orchard Park Middle School,
where Diane attended school, presented flowers, cards and mementos to the family.
"We are especially grateful for the smile that Diane gave us all," a classmate said.
A classmate of Patricia's told The Buffalo News on Monday that she had a creative style and always stood up for what she believed in.
"She was friends with everyone. She never judged anyone," said Stephanie Rupple.
Patricia liked bright colors, and her friends used to call her "Hi-Lighter" after she wore a bright yellow fleece sweater.
"She was very special to me. I feel so helpless," Stephanie said. "I didn't know the rest of her family, but they sure raised a good kid."
Students at the middle and high schools have started a fund for the Carney family. Donations can be sent to the Middle School at 60 S. Lincoln Ave., Orchard Park, N.Y. 14127.
Nycz, the priest at Sacred Heart, said Mrs. Carney and her children were baptized during the Easter Vigil in 1999. They loved one another, he said, and lovingly took care of James, who had medical problems.
"They all seemed to be so close to each other. They were an example of what a Christian family should be," he said. "I believe it was God who filled them with this type of powerful love."