Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan
Pallbearer Ryan Prince, left front, assists with carrying his brother Griffin Prince, 13, to a hearse during the funeral of brothers Jake, 9, and Griffin Prince at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Suwanee on Tuesday. The Prince brothers were killed in a boating accident at Lake Lanier on June 18.
SUWANEE -- A nonstop talker, Jake Prince's favorite things were trains and dirt bikes.
Griffin Prince was reserved, quieter than his younger brother.
Those personality traits, and family memories, were remembered on Tuesday at a funeral service for the Prince brothers. More than 900 people attended the ceremony, which was at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Suwanee, where the Prince family are members of the Sugar Hill Ward Stake Center.
The boys' brother, Ryan, was one of 16 pallbearers; and there were 12 honorary pallbearers.
Two uncles, a grandfather and several family friends spoke at the service, which had a theme that was on the program: "Our family is forever."
Griffin, 13, and Jake, 9, died after a pontoon boat piloted by their father on June 18 was struck head-on by another vessel on Lake Lanier. It took public safety personnel more than a week to recover Griffin's body. A Cumming man has been charged with boating under the influence in the crash.
About 50 public safety personnel attended Tuesday's service -- including some who searched for Griffin's body -- and were asked to stand and be recognized near the end.
The boys' grandfather, Gary Hansen, said during the service that he looks forward to the day when he can hoist his grandsons on his shoulders and carry them around to see God's creation.
"We have made a pledge to not speak of Griffin and Jake in the past tense," Hansen said. "This pledge may tax our speaking skills. ... I know I still have 16 grandchildren."
At a visitation on Monday, the Prince and Hansen family, including parents Michael and Tara, issued a statement where they thanked people who offered support, and thanked public safety personnel.
"We are humbled by this outpouring of love, and all of the prayers which have been and continue to be offered on our behalf," the statement said. "We have felt the power of these prayers and we express our deepest gratitude for the faith and goodness they represent."
At the service, Bishop Mark Bradford reminded the attendees to, "be with your family, tell your companions you love them; hug your children, and be genuine to them."
"Mercy can perfectly balance justice," Bradford said. "Today is a day of rejoicing because we're together."
Bradford opened the service, and then gave way to Scout Troop 520, which presented the colors. The opening hymn was "I Need Thee Every Hour."
The boys' uncle, Wes Edwards, gave the invocation, and was followed in the service by uncle David Prince, Hansen and family friend Rick Berrett, who offered the benediction.
The closing hymn was "God Be With You 'Till We Meet Again."
In his closing remarks, Bradford spoke of the emotions around the event, and offered reassurance.
"We've shared many tears, and it's OK," he said. "It's OK to smile, and it's OK to laugh. When we do those things, our hearts are softened."
Prince and Hansen family statement - July 2, 2012
June 18, 2012 will always be remembered by our family as a day of extraordinary sadness, pain and suffering; but, it will also be remembered as a day when hundreds of thousands of people, across the United States and in 19 other countries, began to open their hearts to us, to pray for us, to serve us, to contribute their time and resources to Michael, Tara, and Ryan as well as to other family members, to mitigate the financial and emotional costs associated with this tragedy. We are humbled by this outpouring of love, and of all of the prayers which have been and continue to be offered on our behalf. We have felt the power of these prayers and we express our deepest gratitude for the faith and goodness they represent.
We are amazed at the miracles which took place as devoted and capable members of the Public Safety Community, representing many local and state and national organizations worked together as a team to fulfill the mission they had to find Griffin’s body. This was an outstanding example of how a team of professionals can accomplish even the most difficult of assignments, and of how they were motivated not just by a sense of duty, but of how this was also a work of love, which has helped to bring our beloved Griffin’s body home, so he can be honored and buried with his brother. There will be a place of honor at the funeral for all of those in the Public Safety Community who were involved in this search and who supported the efforts of those on the scene, and those who reached out to our family in so many ways. If their schedules are such that they can attend, we want them there.
These events were all foreseen by God, and while He does not cause bad things to happen, He can provide for much good to flow from such events. Certainly, our family is living proof of this truth. While we would gladly return all the blessings we have received from God since the day of this tragedy to have our two boys back; yet, we know that reunion will be delayed until a future time and place; so, until that time, we express our gratitude for the many blessings we receive every day.
The Public Visitation being held July 2, 2012, and the Funeral being held July 3, 2012 represent a small gift that we offer to others, as well as a time of healing for our family as we rejoice in the lives of these two beautiful boys whom we love and honor for their goodness.