Robert Heard Sr. summarized the uniqueness of his three grandchildren’s infectious smiles and love of music.
Heard also complimented his two younger cousins, ages 5 and 8, recalling when they woke up early to help feed the homeless.
“What can you say about [being] humanitarians at a young age? They always looking out for other people,” Heard said. “That’s how my family is and that’s how my family will stay.”
Heard joined several others who gave reflections Saturday before hundreds of family members, friends and educators at a funeral service at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, for five children killed in an automobile accident this month.
They filled the pews to celebrate the lives of Damari Makale Herald, 15; Zion Elijah Beard, 14; London Anayah Dixon, 8; Rickelle Lashawn Ricks, 6; and Paris Aliza Dixon, 5.
Each name was emblazoned on colorful wreaths that stood beside pink and white caskets in front of the pulpit. Damari, Zion and Rickelle are siblings from the District and cousins to the Dixon sisters from Bowie.
The children died Feb. 2 after a vehicle they rode in crashed along Route 301 in Bowie. Maryland State Police said Dominique R. Taylor, 32, the mother of Paris and London, drove a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica that veered off the highway, struck several trees and spun in a snow-covered field.
Police said a preliminary investigation revealed Taylor and a front passenger, Cornell D. Simon, 23, of Oxon Hill, wore seat belts and received treatment at a local hospital, but the five children were ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.
At Saturday’s service, a program offered highlights of what made the children special.
Damari had a very strong interest in the field of technology as a freshman at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School’s Capitol Hill campus. Blue was his favorite color and he also occasionally cooked for his family.
Zion liked green as his favorite color and participated in the afterschool math club as an eighth-grade student at Friendship Public Charter School in the District.
His sister, Rickelle, also attended Friendship enrolled as a straight-A first-grade student who loved the color pink and participated in a dance class. Heard called her “Rockelle” because “she rocks.”
London and Paris attended Northview Elementary in Bowie. London, a third-grader, loved the color red. Paris was in kindergarten and liked pink and purple.
Lesley Boone, a second-grade teacher at Northview, told a short story about Paris’s love for art and greeting teachers. London “was a responsible, proud big sister” who also won first place in the school’s reading fair.
“London and Paris were affectionate and loved to give hugs,” said Boone, as she stood beside London’s third-grade teacher, Tiffany Smith, and assistant principal Jessica Grant. “We were the happy recipients of those hugs. Both girls loved being together. It was truly a beautiful bond.”