Wa­ter park tram driver, square dance fan among vic­tims

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By El­iz­a­beth Fin­dell efind­ell@states­man.com Con­tact El­iz­a­beth Fin­dell at 512-445-3696. Twit­ter: @efind­ell

A Sch­lit­ter­bahn tram driver, a square dancer and a for­mer as­sis­tant to a news­pa­per pub­lisher were among the vic­tims of a bus crash that claimed 13 lives near Uvalde on Wed­nes­day.

They were mem­bers of the First Bap­tist Church of New Braun­fels, on the way home from an an­nual re­treat when a pickup truck veered across the road and hit their bus head-on. Only one pas­sen­ger from the bus, Rose Mary Har­ris, 64, sur­vived and was air­lifted to San An­to­nio. The driver of the pickup also re­mains hos­pi­tal­ized.

De­tails about some of the de­ceased be­gan to emerge Thurs­day as friends and fam­ily mem­bers learned of the crash.

Mur­ray Bar­rett, 67, worked as a tram driver at Sch­lit­ter­bahn wa­ter park since 2002, said spokes­woman Win­ter Pros­a­pio, who said he was widely known as “just the sweet­est, sweet­est guy.”

“Work­ing here as a tram driver sea­son af­ter sea­son takes a spe­cial per­son be­cause there’s lots of guests, it’s very hot, ob­vi­ously, you have to have pa­tience with small chil­dren who are cranky — and he was won­der­ful with ev­ery­one,” she said.

News of the death of Donna Hawkins, 69, of Schertz, re­ver­ber­ated all the way to Cal­i­for­nia, where Hawkins was in­volved in the square-danc­ing com­mu­nity.

“She was the best pro­po­nent we had for voic­ing in­for­ma­tion on square danc­ing,” said Pam Kid­well, pres­i­dent of the Cal­i­for­nia Square Dance Coun­cil.

Af­ter Hawkins’ hus­band died, she learned to dance the man’s part so she would al­ways have part­ners, Kid­well said. Hawkins was in charge of ac­tiv­i­ties for the coun­cil, in­clud­ing giv­ing out cer­tifi­cates to dancers over age 80 and or­ga­niz­ing the an­nual danc­ing at the San Diego County Fair. When the square-dancers did com­mu­nity out­reach at the fair, she made elab­o­rate vests to fit the theme of each year.

“You could al­ways count on Donna for get­ting her girls to­gether and get­ting her vests, whether it was ‘Out of this World’ or ‘Mad Hat­ter’ or what­ever,” Kid­well said. “She’d dive into it with so much en­thu­si­asm.”

Hawkins moved to Texas a cou­ple of years ago to be closer to fam­ily.

An­other vic­tim, Mil­dred Rosa­mond, 87, moved to New Braun­fels from the Gulf Coast, where she worked as a re­cep­tion­ist to the pub­lisher for The Bay­town Sun.

Janie Hal­ter Gray, the editor and pub­lisher, said she re­mem­bered Rosa­mond from when she her­self be­gan work­ing at the pa­per in the late ’70s.

“She was a re­ally nice lady,” Gray said. “As far as a re­cep­tion­ist goes in that line of work, she was al­ways smil­ing, friendly, did a good job.”

Mur­ray Bar­rett

Sue Wynn Tys­dal

Ad­die Sch­meltekopf

Donna Hawkins

Mil­dred Rosa­mond

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