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Memory Star Tree Keeps Memory of Loved Ones Shining

October 24, 2014 8:31 a.m.

The Lincolnland Hospice Memory Star Tree is more than a just a beautiful Christmas Tree to Kelley Hennigh. It is a place in which she can honor and remember her nephew and her daughter.

The Memory Star Tree is featured at Sarah Bush Lincoln’s annual Festival of Trees as a way to honor and memorialize loved ones. Hennigh, manager of Lincolnland Home Care, said, “Hospice provides wonderful care and has always been near and dear to my heart.” The tree has been a focal point of Festival of Trees since it began 15 years ago. “It is such a good cause and brings back so many memories when you see people’s names on there.”

Proceeds from the tree help fund free community bereavement, care for people without means and grant-a-wish, a program to fulfill end-of-life wishes.

For the past eight years, she has purchased a star with her nephew’s name, Tanner Williamson, on it on behalf of her sister, Beth. Tanner died tragically at age 10 in accident at home.

“God has a way to working through us,” she said. “My daughter, Erica, used to babysit for Tanner and he loved her. As he passed away, we learned that Erica was pregnant with a boy. And then two years ago, Erica died a day after Tanner’s birthday, and we learned another nephew was pregnant with a baby girl. Life is a circle. I believe that God put Erica on earth to watch over Tanner and now can do so in Heaven.”

Every year, Hennigh purchases four stars; one with Tanner’s name for her sister, Beth, and three with Erica’s name for herself and both of Erica’s children. The stars are healing for Hennigh and her family. “This is my way to show honor and respect to Tanner and Erica, and a way to know that their names and memories of them are carried on for another year,” she said, “Plus, this is something physical that I can give to my grandsons and every Christmas they can look at the star and say, ‘this was for my mom.’”

The Memory Star Tree is sponsor by the Cromwell Radio Group, WMCI, The Party and The Axe. Each star, with a loved one’s named engraved on it, is $30 and can be purchased through the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation. They are displayed on the tree throughout the Festival of Trees, Nov. 20 (Friends Night Out) and Nov. 21 through Nov. 22. Following the Festival, those who purchase a star, can take them home and enjoy them throughout the holidays or year.

For more information contact Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation at 258-2511 or

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