ROBINSON, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — “She’d give you the shirt off her back, but she’d talk to you for an hour to give it to you; that’s my mother-in-law.”
Daniel Bell speaks highly of his mother-in-law, Rebecca “Becky” Bradbury, calling her one of the best people he’s ever met.
The beloved matriarch was one of eight people killed by the devastating storms that spawned an EF-3 tornado across Crawford County, Illinois, Sullivan County, Indiana and Owen County, Indiana.
“We talked to her via text, we talked to her on the phone,” Bell said when recalling the events of March 31. “Eventually we lost contact with the weather – it came so fast.”
Bradbury lived in a modular home south of Robinson – a home her son-in-law said was not equipped to stand up to the strength of a tornado.
“She got in the middle of the home, but as a modular home, there’s really no safe place,” Bell said. “We really want folks to realize that and encourage them to really think about having alternate and safe spaces if they live in a modular home because it is absolutely not tornado proof.”
Bradbury’s loved ones are now picking up the literal pieces of her home, and are finding what they call “little miracles” along the way. Bradbury’s wedding ring was located days after the storm by one of her best friends’ daughters, and a ring belonging to Bell’s brother-in-law was found on Thursday morning amid the rubble. A cross from inside the home was found, and Bell placed it upright in the ground in front of what is left of Bradbury’s home.
The family has found these signs of Bradbury in the most serendipitous of places.
“My wife’s step-sister Stacey, her picture was found in Owen County on the same road that gets to my wife and my house just outside of Spencer, Indiana,” Bell shared. “There was also a picture of my wife and her sister, Heather Angle, in Clay City, which is about 20 miles from us. So, we’re over an hour and 25 minutes from here (Robinson) and pieces from our home here were really close to the vicinity of our house; we’re so thankful to find them.”
The photos were shared by people on Facebook lost and found pages created after the storm; there are many stories of connection between the counties hit by the storms to be found on the pages, and countless memories and keepsakes are now on their way back to their original owners because of social media posts.
This is just one example of the community support Bradbury’s family has experienced since the storm. Bell mentioned several businesses, law enforcement agencies, and residents from both Illinois and Indiana who have made the trip to his mother-in-law’s property to help with damage assessment and cleanup. He said he knew if he tried to list them all, he would surely forget someone due to the sheer volume of help the family has received.
“We’ve had more help out here from volunteers than anybody could imagine,” Bell said. “It’s just amazing how people rush to a tragedy, not out of anything other than the kindness of their heart.”
Bell said the family’s gratitude is endless, but it is apparent that if their beloved matriarch was still here, she would be doing the same for those in need.
“She loved life, she loved her grandkids, she loved her daughters,” Bell said, smiling. “There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for you. We’re gonna miss her dearly.”
Bradbury’s obituary says the funeral services are set for Friday and her final resting place will be at Bradbury Cemetery in West Union, Illinois.