No one was ready to let Courtney McGhee go.
On Monday, more than 100 family members and friends gathered at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Philipsburg to say their last goodbyes to the 41-year-old Bellefonte woman who was killed last week.
They said it with prayers and petals.
“These flowers are a tribute,” said Kenneth Codner, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Spring Mills.
The flowers were everywhere.
There were the ones to be expected, like the waterfall of pink roses and bright purple blooms that blanketed her coffin, the white and pink blossoms on the cross-shaped arrangement, the red rose heart on the altar, and the long-stemmed single pink-and-white roses her closest family members offered as a farewell.
Others were smaller and specially for McGhee. On about half of the crowd, a small loop of pale pink ribbon with a tiny rosebud winked from a dress or a lapel.
“It’s in memory of Courtney,” said one mourner quietly.
Codner echoed the words McGhee’s family wrote in her obituary as he delivered the eulogy, remembering her as “beautiful, bubbly, smart, loving and courageous.” But one of those words stood out from the rest.
“Bubbly. If I had to choose one single word to define her, that would be it,” he said. “She brought joy to everyone who was around her.”
She also brought a desire to help.
In 2016, her nephew, R.J. Shirey, then 15, was injured in a hunting accident, shot with a 12-gauge shotgun, ultimately losing his leg. Codner remembered McGhee’s first instinct, asking the Grace Baptist community for prayers. A bank manager, her second instinct was financial, and she set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help with the medical bills. She helped collect $5,450 for him over the course of a year.
In four days, people touched by McGhee or her story have raised $3,600 for her family. McGhee left behind a 13-year-old daughter, two sisters and her parents. Her husband, Charles McGhee, is in Centre County Correctional Facility without bail, charged with killing his wife and setting fire to their home.
At the graveside, McGhee’s loved ones lingered, hugging and saying tearful goodbyes to each other, the kind of goodbyes they didn’t get to say to her.