BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. (WALA) — For 40 years, the body of 4-year-old Hurricane Frederic victim Eula Arlene Bosage has rested underneath a concrete slab at a cemetery in Alabama, no headstone marking the site.
Her father, Lawrence Bosarge, said he could not afford a marker at the time.
“I came out here and put the dog there to watch over her,” said Bosarge, motioning to a ceramic statue.
As of Wednesday, Eula’s grave has that headstone – with an image of an angel inside a heart, her photograph, and a sketch of a dog matching the statue.
The headstone is possible because of the generosity of Jesse Phillips, of Phillips Monument. Al Kenmar, of Kenmar Family Funeral Home, presided over a graveside memorial service.
Both men responded after FOX10 News aired a 40th anniversary special on Hurricane Frederic, including the story of the only person to die as a direct result of the storm. Eula died when a refrigerator at the mobile home she was in fell on top of her.
Bosarge, 71, expressed his gratitude and choked up recalling his daughter.
“She was precious. And I was avoiding coming out here. Scared me. It still does,” he said.
Bosarge said he almost never talked about his daughter over the years. Eula’s sister, Virginia Williams, said she did not even know where the girl was buried.
“I’m glad it’s out and opened up, ’cause nobody knew this,” Bosarge said. “My son didn’t know this. My daughter, she forgot things. She tried to erase it out of her mind.”
Kenmar said there was no way he could accept money for the funeral services. He told the Bosarge family that he shares an emotional connection from his own experience. He was 9 when Frederic hit, and he said he did not have a clue what a hurricane even was.
“It got pretty rough. You could hear the wind blowing, and all of a sudden, through the roof of our living room, came a gigantic oak tree,” he said. “And it just stabbed right through the roof, right down into the floor of our home. And I realized right then what a hurricane was.”
Wednesday’s service drew a small crowd of Bosarge’s relatives and one longtime friend. Ernest Barber said he and Lawrence Bosarge have been fishing together since they were 15 years old and both worked as commercial shrimpers.
“He was surprised I come … He said, ‘I didn’t ever dream I’d see you here,’” he said. “But he’s a friend. He’s a lifetime friend.”
Bosarge said after the service that it was a beautiful memorial. He said he is at peace knowing there is a permanent marker for the girl he calls his “little red-headed angel.”