Thomas and Sandy St. George had planned to have a special weekend together camping, said family friend Stacy Thompson.
Instead, family and friends spent Saturday remembering Sandy, 26, who died in a fire at her West Richland home early Friday morning.
“She was honestly one of the nicest people I ever knew,” Thompson said of the mother of three young boys. “She was always cheerful and happy and helpful.”
On Saturday, West Richland Police Sgt. Scott Bravo said the cause of the fire still was undetermined. He said a West Richland police detective is investigating the blaze with the help of fire marshals from Kennewick and Richland.
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The Benton County Coroner’s Office plans to perform an autopsy Monday, Bravo said.
When firefighters responded about 5:30 a.m. to a fire at 701 S. 45th Ave., the single-story house was 75 percent involved.
An adjacent shop from which Thomas St. George ran his business, St. George Well Drilling and Pump Installation, was engulfed in flames.
Thomas St. George, 27, was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland. He was treated for smoke inhalation and released Saturday afternoon, said his mother, Rosemary St. George.
The couple’s three children, Nehemiah, 4, Josiah, 3, and Malachi, 1, weren’t home at the time of the blaze. They were being babysat by a family friend.
Sandy St. George was active in Temple Baptist Church, as well as in the ECHO home school program, which Nehemiah attended, said Thompson, who also is active in both organizations.
“(Sandy) always volunteered with just a good attitude,” Thompson said, whether that was helping with church functions or taking over some of her home-canned food to a needy friend.
Sandy also was a gracious hostess, always inviting friends to her house for events, such as for her boys’ birthdays.
“She’d just always have a barbecue, do it up really nice,” Thompson said.
Another church friend, Tonya Speights, said that she and Sandy were exercising buddies. On Wednesday nights, they would walk the three miles to church together, sometimes with their kids in tow.
Last fall, Sandy ran her first half-marathon with Malachi on her back, Speights said.
“With Sandy, motherhood just came so naturally to her. She was so easy-going with the kids,” Speights said. “With the kids, she’d just pack them in a stroller.”
Thomas St. George emailed the Herald some memories that friends and family members jotted down at a gathering Saturday.
One commenter said Sandy liked baking, particularly making baby cupcakes, as well as scrapbooking. As a Umatilla High School student, she had competed on the co-ed wrestling team.
“She was just a very sweet and loving person, and Thomas is the same way,” Mike Gilchrist, the pastor at Temple Baptist Church, told the Herald.
“We’re entering into sorrow with them,” he said.
Gilchrist, who married the couple, said donations for the family may be dropped off at the church, 4555 Arena Road, Richland, WA 99352. Checks may be mailed to the church.
“She’ll be missed,” Thompson said. “She did a lot of things. It’ll be noticed that she’s gone.”Thomas St. George said a memorial service for his wife is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at the church.
-- Kathy Korengel: 582-1541; firstname.lastname@example.org