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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2007
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Memorial for senator’s grandson draws many

TALLADEGA (AP) — Hundreds attended a Talladega memorial for 17-year-old Benjamin Stanford, who died off Interstate 20 in Villa Rica, Ga. from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Gov. Bob Riley, Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom, numerous legislators and other mourners consoled the teen’s parents, Bill and Lynne Stanford, and grandparents, state Sen. Jim Preu-itt, D-Talladega, and Rona Preuitt, by recalling fond memories of him.

In Georgia, Carroll County Coroner Sammy Eady said the cause of death was “contact gunshot of the head.” The teen died Nov. 5, but his body was not recovered until Tuesday.

Benjamin Stanford’s father is a former Hartselle resident, and he has other relatives in Morgan County.

Shannon Felder, the football coach at The Donoho School in Anniston, where Stanford was a senior and played baseball, said his death is “our wakeup call.”

“We’re so busy with our jobs, we have no time for kids and family, but we can’t let that happen,” Felder said. “Every day should be special and valuable. So I’m going to say so long, Ben, until we meet again.”

He described Stanford as “smart, creative and magical.”

Big Oak Ranch founder John Croyle also spoke at the Speed Channel Dome service, delivering a message of faith in God.

“There are a lot of smart, powerful people in this room today. And there is a lot of hurt, pain and anger in this room today. But God is bigger than all that,” he said.

In his eulogy, the Rev. Bob Blackwell said, “We are gathered to celebrate two lives, Ben’s 17 years on earth and his new eternal life. Death continues to be conquered. It may not feel that way, but it’s the truth.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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