Kerry Fletcher said there wasn’t a dry eye in any of the funeral processional cars that drove by Luling Elementary School on Feb. 21.
“The principal Sam Buhler was standing out front and we slowed down and thanked him for everything he had done for Kellie,” Kerry said. “He said, ‘Wait until you turn down the street.’”
What awaited the drivers and occupants of the processional cars were dozens of students and teachers standing outside in solidarity.
“A lot of them were wearing pink – Kellie’s favorite color,” Kerry said. “There was a ‘We love you Kellie’ sign out front … it was something to see. It was a lot more than what we were expecting. There was nothing but tears in the cars going by … it was a great send-off for her … a final trip to her school.”
Kellie Fletcher Growl died on Feb. 15 at the age of 40. She was a native of Kenner and resident of Luling. She taught for 17 years in the St. Charles Parish School System and most of her teaching years were at Luling Elementary- a place very close to her heart. She leaves behind two children – Gavin and Grace.
Growl fought cancer for the past eight and a half years. She was originally diagnosed in August 2013 with Stage 3b ocular (uveal) melanoma, which is melanoma of the eye’s iris.
“That cancer has a life expectancy of two to three years, and she went eight and a half,” Kerry said. “She was a tough little girl … tougher than we realized.”
Kerry and his wife Kathy Fletcher said their daughter Kellie was a beautiful child that grew up to be an amazing woman.
“After reading all the tributes and hearing all the stories about Kellie from her family, friends, co-workers and especially her former students, it made us so proud to see how many lives she touched and impacted,” Kerry said. “Kellie’s request was in lieu of flowers, school supplies be donated and the response was tremendous. We were able to fill 54 donated backpacks with numerous assorted school supplies and still have an extremely large amount of supplies that will also be donated to Luling Elementary School – which she was proud to be a part of.”
Kellie’s husband Richard Growl thanked the community for supporting his wife and family during her cancer battle.
“I will say … I’ve told my family and my children we actually have gotten to witness a true miracle happen right before our eyes with the tremendous outpouring of support this community has shown to us,” he said. “I have plenty more to say, and plenty people to thank, but I just cannot do it at this time and for that I’m sorry. I just can’t find the words … that was Kellie’s thing. Thank you all and much love to you all.”
Kellie’s friend Robyn Caillouet Growl said she couldn’t think of a better tribute to Kellie than the school supply drive done at her funeral.
“Kellie every year would buy school supplies for her students who didn’t have them,” she said. “She went to teacher orientation this school year … her intent was to teach. She was anxious to get back in the classroom.”
Robyn Tregre, Kellie’s sister-in-law, added that Kellie’s love for her students was “immeasurable.”
“Kellie was one of kind. At Luling Elementary, she was more than an awesome teacher … she was also a leader,” Dana Dufrene, Kellie’s friend who also taught with her at Luling Elementary, said. “Some of the roles she had were the New Teacher Lead Mentor, a leader of Faculty Fitness, a mentor of the LES Running Club, an active participant on multiple committees to support our School Improvement Plan. Note that these roles were while she was battling cancer. She walked around with unwavering faith that she was here for a reason and that she would fight and endure whatever it took to continue being a mother, wife, daughter, teacher and friend.”
Dufrene said Kellie was a walking miracle at Luling Elementary and an inspiration to the entire school community.
“I thought I was special to Kellie, but I now know that everyone was special to Kellie Growl,” she said. “She made others feel like they meant the world to her, because they actually did. She baked cakes for others, sent school supplies to new teachers, bought numerous gifts for others, wrote encouraging notes, met for dinners, made time to listen to others and offered well organized solutions to help with problems.”
Danny Fletcher, one of Kellie’s brothers, said Kellie was an inspiration to everyone.
“Throughout her fight, she never let it stop her from focusing on helping others,” he said. “The support her family received the last few weeks has been wonderful. The donations of school supplies, and the comments from those that she has touched, have been amazing to read. Kellie was a true hero.”
Darryl Fletcher, another of Kellie’s brothers, said his sister leaves behind an amazing legacy.
“Kellie grew up with three older brothers who were supposed to be strong and protect her,” he said. “What we learned during her courageous battle the last eight plus years, is that she was stronger than all of her brothers. Stronger in her faith. Stronger in her kindness to others. Stronger in her fight.”
To honor their daughter, the Fletchers have setup the Kellie Fletcher Growl Scholarship Fund. Kerry said the fund will be used to help current and former Luling Elementary students who are dealing with family hardships.
The fund has been setup at Hancock Whitney Bank Kenner Branch. To contribute to the fund, checks made out to the Kellie Fletcher Growl Scholarship Fund can be mailed to 2609 Veterans Highway, Kenner, LA 70062. Venmo donations are also accepted, and can be sent to Kathy Fletcher at @Kathy-Fletcher-26.
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