Toddler's funeral

Pallbearers carry the small casket of Patricia Ann Rader to a grave site at Oaklawn Cemetery in Rockdale Monday.

ROCKDALE — The grief-stricken family of Patricia Ann Rader said farewell Monday afternoon to the little girl known as Annie whose life was taken far too soon at the age of 1 year, 8 months and three days.

The family was seated on two sides of the sanctuary at Phillips & Luckey Funeral Home. One woman sobbed and trembled as people reached to comfort her, while many cried silent tears as “When I get to where I’m goin’” played in the otherwise hushed room.

Pastor Barry Methvin of the Apostolic Faith Church shared the family’s thankfulness for everyone for came to support them and demonstrate their love and compassion.

Methvin based his message on Psalms and David’s response through his trials and times of darkness. He encouraged the family to look toward God’s light as they deal with the realities that are yet to come — the tears, anger, unbearable pain and questions that as of yet have no answers.

He urged the family to let God make all things new and to heal them.

Methvin referred to Annie as that light in a dark place for those who knew her — the earthly version of God, the “daystar” mentioned in II Peter 1:19.

Annie was a fighter who went “full speed ahead,” Methvin said. She taught her family to overcome and never let go, one family member told Methvin.

Methvin picked up his guitar and sang a very moving song that led people to lower their heads as tears traced paths down their cheeks.

“Fly, fly little wings. Fly where only angels sing,” was part of the lyrics sung in 1996 by Celine Dion. The song focuses on the sadness a parent faces when a child dies.

The service ended with “In the Garden,” a gospel song.

As the many vehicles in the slow procession made their way to Oaklawn Cemetery, all but three cars pulled to the side of the road — an outpouring of small-town respect.

Pallbearers Thomas Bond, Mercedes Rader, Dillan Schnerr, Mike Rader and Joey Yarbrough carried the small casket bearing Annie’s little body to the tented area.

Honorary pallbearers were Michael E. Matthews, Dylan Harbuck, Dakota Harbuck and Troy Hirt.

Methvin told the family to not let the darkness of the world overcome them and to “not succumb to hate and anger.” Instead, he advised them to let God’s light “shine in their hearts and lives as they seek the strength to face the day head-on.”

Annie suffered a violent death Dec. 3. Shawn Vincent Boniello was charged with capital murder and abandoning/endangering a child. Annie was pronounced dead at the home of her custodial grandfather, where Boniello was living.

Her uncle, Thomas Bond, said Annie smiled all the time.

“All she wanted was to be loved,” Bond said.