TACOMA, Wash. - More than a thousand people mourned the deaths of Charlie and Braden Powell at a public funeral Saturday, nearly a week after the young boys' father killed them and himself in a gas-fueled blaze.
"We want to celebrate their innocence today," said the Rev. Dean Curry, lead pastor of Life Center Church in Tacoma. "We want to be grateful for the moments we had with these children."
The boys' grandfather, Chuck Cox, thanked people of all faiths all around the world who had prayed for them.
“It helps us to be strong and helps us to know that there are good people in the world, good people that would fight against evil,” he said.
“All their teachers, their social workers, the police, everyone was doing everything they possibly could to keep them safe and help them and love them,” he said. “We thank you for your support."
At the front of the church's sanctuary, the boys were in a single casket topped with a large flower arrangement that included daisies, roses and sunflowers.
"We know that they're with their mother," Cox said, remembering his daughter, Susan Powell, who has been missing for two years and is presumed dead.
The boys' father, Josh Powell, was in the middle of a custody battle with Cox when he set fire to his rental home in Graham last Sunday.
Charlie’s kindergarten teacher, Tammy Ougheon, said the 7-year-old had a great appreciation for nature.
“He loved rocks, sticks, leaves and bugs,” she said. “On many occasions he tried to sneak a worm or caterpillar into the class. He was always a good sport whenever I caught him and he would make sure the bug was safe and sound before joining the class.”
Christie King, one of Braden’s teachers at the YMCA Pre-K program, said the 5-year-old walked through the door every day with a smile on his face.
“Braden had an enthusiasm for life and took pleasure in everything,” she said.
The service was initially planned for The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Puyallup, but the family agreed to move it for two reasons -- to a venue large enough to hold the expected number of attendees, and to a venue where television cameras could broadcast it. The family wants the broadcast so mourners in Utah who can't travel to Tacoma can watch the service.
There will be a private family burial on Monday.
The boys, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden were killed by their father, Josh Powell, on Sunday in a fire at his Graham home. Powell, who died in the fire, was a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife two years ago.
If you’d like to leave a message for the family of the boys, you can sign and view an online guest book.
The Curnow Funeral Home has set up an obituary and memorial page.
Visitors to the memorial page can sign the guest book, send flowers or a sympathy card, or send private condolences.