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March 19, 2006

Family and friends mourn death of Miss Deaf Texas

From: Austin American-Statesman, TX - Mar 19, 2006

Beauty queen remembered for her kindness, enthusiasm.

By Tony Plohetski
Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tara Rose McAvoy was remembered Saturday as a beautiful teenager whose kindness helped welcome new students at her school, whose smile turned heads and who pumped up fellow beauty pageant contestants by telling them that they were all winners.

McAvoy, 18, the reigning Miss Deaf Texas, was eulogized by friends, family members and classmates during an emotional 45-minute funeral service at Mission Funeral Home in South Austin.

She died Monday — three months before she was to compete in the Miss Deaf America competition in California — after a train struck her as she walked along the Union Pacific railroad tracks near Oltorf Street and Thornton Road.

Police have said McAvoy, who was on her way to her mother's workplace, was exchanging text messages with family and friends when the train's snowplow hit her as she walked about a foot from the tracks.

She died a short time later.

On Saturday, the Rev. Anthony Njoku, pastor at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, said McAvoy led a "short but bright, radiant and inspiring life."

Njoku called on mourners to renew their faith in God and, in a prayer, asked that God console McAvoy's family and friends, many of whom sobbed and sang "Amazing Grace" at the beginning of the service.

"No degree of faith will remove the sense of loss and grief from a death such as this," Njoku said.

Several mourners, including McAvoy's brother, gave brief eulogies.

A classmate from the Texas School for the Deaf said McAvoy had helped her get settled during her first few days in class.

Another mourner talked about how much McAvoy enjoyed beauty pageants, which she began entering as a child, and how she couldn't wait for the national competition in June.

Through a sign language interpreter, family friend Karen Kingrey said that Rose was a suitable name for McAvoy.

Rose petals, she said, represented McAvoy's "precious dimples." The green stem represented McAvoy's youth, and green leaves were like McAvoy's "beautiful arms stretched out," she said.

Throughout the service, a large video screen showed pictures from throughout McAvoy's life.

McAvoy, a blond toddler, wearing a blue dress with white ruffles. McAvoy, a little older, in a red velvet dress in front of a Christmas tree. McAvoy sporting a cowboy hat in a field of bluebonnets.

And McAvoy smiling big and wearing her Miss Deaf Texas crown.

Under the photo, it said, "In loving memory of Tara Rose McAvoy. July 17, 1987 — March 13, 2006."; 445-3605

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