Family Remembers 8th Tornado Victim as Being Strong

By Justin Foss, Reporter

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By Justin Foss

PARKERSBURG - The family of Bertha Eckhoff says those horrible tornadoes more than a week ago were no match for her will, only her body.

Tuesday the 85-year-old woman became the EF-5 tornado's eighth victim.

When everything seemed at its worst, Bertha Eckhoff was at her best.

"We didn't find any appliances, any appliances, we didn't find any of her furniture, except for one chair. And she weighs about 95 pounds and she was on the kitchen floor when they found her," said son Alvin Eckhoff.

Bertha was still alive after the tornado, but had a lot of serious cuts from glass. In the confusion after the storm, Bertha's spirit shined as rescuers put her on stretcher.

"It was the daughter of the neighbor woman that came over and was saying mom, mom, mom. And my mom just looked at her and said your mom is okay. My name is Bertha," said daughter Shirley Wolf.

"At least she knew that her mother was okay, and again, worried about someone else besides herself," said daughter Sylvia Lyons.

This time, Bertha was the one everyone needed to worry about.

But, two incredibly placed messages told her family it would be okay.

The music for a song called, The Wild Ride was found near her car, which was in a tree. And, the music for He's Got The Whole World In His Hands was sitting just feet from where she was found.

God might have it all together, but that wouldn't stop Bertha.

"She'd still be, 'What about Berdine, what about my neighbors across the street.' She'd be worried about the other people in town and I'm sure she still is," said Alvin.

Bertha survived for ten days after the twister. She tried to tell her family what happened, but they couldn't understand her because of the surgeries and a ventilator.

"And we had no idea what she was saying and its frustrating not to know what she was trying to relay to us. But how do you find out? Just have to hope you did the right thing," said Wolf.

Bertha's funeral is on Saturday.

Officials at Allen Hospital in Waterloo say she was their last patient from Parkersburg.

Email Justin Foss at Justin.Foss@kcrg.com

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