Local News

Funeral held for third plant explosion victim

Posted June 15, 2009

— The third and final funeral for the victims of a Garner plant explosion was held Monday.

Hundred of people gathered at Johnston Community College to say goodbye to Louis Junior Watson, 33, of Clayton.

Lewis Junior Watson's funeral (ConAgra plant explosion victim) Hundreds mourn explosion victim

The blast last Tuesday at the ConAgra Foods plant killed Watson, Rachel Mae Poston Pulley, 67, of Clayton, and Barbara McLean Spears, 43, of Dunn.

Co-workers told Watson's family that he died trying to help Spears, who had fallen, escape the plant. The building caved in on both them.

"That's Lewis – always looking to help somebody. (He) put others before him, put someone else first," co-worker Kelly Prince said.

"It's going to take not only this day but a lifetime trying to explain the goodness of his heart, what kind of man he was," friend Gregory Terry said.

The funeral was moved to the community college auditorium because St. Peters Disciples of Christ Church in Smithfield, where Watson was active, couldn't hold everyone they expect for his funeral.

The Sunday funerals of Pulley and Spears also drew hundreds of mourners.

Watson had worked at ConAgra Foods for nearly 15 years, was a volunteer on the plant's safety team and also ran a lawn service.

He and his wife, Terri, would have celebrated their wedding anniversary Sunday. They have a 14-year-old son and 16-year-old and 18-year-old daughters.

“He loved spending time with me,” Terri Watson said. “He always made time for us.”

Investigators have determined that a natural gas leak in the packaging area of the plant, which makes Slim Jim beef jerky products, sparked the explosion.

Dozens of workers were injured, and four remain in critical condition in the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

"Things just won't be the same, but we just have to put God first and just believe everything happens for a reason," Prince said.

Garner officials plan to hold a moment of silence at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to mark the one-week anniversary of the blast.

A fund established by ConAgra to support the Garner workers has raised more than $132,000 so far.


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  • mjlt3 Jun 15, 2009

    What a beautiful person --- my heart goes out to the family, this is what this world need "more people like him"!

  • CAROLINA43 Jun 15, 2009

    John 15:13

    "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends".

  • mmafighterwife Jun 15, 2009

    No matter who you are, where you come from a story like this touches the heart in ways that I cannot explain. I don't know any of these families but my heart is heavy for each and everyone of them. I pray that they will find peace and comfort during this time. My prayers and thoughts are with all of you!

  • 2alegal Jun 15, 2009

    Rest in peace dear friend. You paid the ultimate sacrifice. Prayers for your family and friends.

  • mrduright Jun 15, 2009

    So often the word "Hero" is thrown around on this line. Well this is a true example of what a hero is.

  • MellowMelnJC Jun 15, 2009

    You are right ghimmy51...I feel for all the families, the ones that will have scars on the outside that we can see and the ones that have scars(broken hearts)on the inside that sometimes never go away.

  • garnertoy Jun 15, 2009

    what a guy

  • ghimmy51 Jun 15, 2009

    There is no better way to exit this world than giving one's life to save another.