Friday, September 3, 2010
Funeral For Slain LDS Bishop Clay Sannar Takes Place In Visalia, California; Around 1,200 People In Attendance
The funeral for Clay Sannar, the former bishop of the Visalia 2nd Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who was fatally shot by 47-year-old Kenneth Ward on August 22nd, 2010, was held on September 3rd, 2010 in front of an estimated 1,200 people. Because a crowd of up to 2,000 was originally expected, the funeral was held at a larger LDS chapel on 650 N. Lovers Lane. The chapel has a 1,400-person capacity, and officials had arranged to have video monitors in various rooms and outside to accommodate the overflow. While no members of the LDS First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve will attend, the leadership was to be represented by L. Whitney Clayton, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Watch KFSN Channel 30 news video HERE.
The service began at 1:00 P.M. and lasted around 45 minutes. Clay Sannar's body was in a closed casket. Among those paying tribute to Clay Sannar at the service were his younger sister Melisse Sannar Myers and his younger brother Blane Sannar. Both highlighted the mission served by Clay in Ireland as being significant to his spiritual growth; they both said that Clay returned from his mission more knowledgeable and confident, but not quite as competitive as he was as a youth.
The Sannar family spoke out at greater length on September 2nd. Jared Sannar, who was Clay's brother, said "I just want to express our deepest thanks and appreciation for the outpouring of love, not just from the church community but from the people around the world. It helps us heal." Jared Sannar would not say whether his family has been in contact with Ward's relatives, but he did say he empathizes with them.
Clay Sannar's widow Julie appeared poised as she arrived with the couple's six sons. Church leaders say she and her children are doing exceptionally well considering the circumstances. Relatives of Sannar say they all plan to work together to help Julie raise her boys. The church the Sannar's have been overwhelmed by love from the community. A total stranger, Connor Boyack of Lehi, Utah, started an online donation program which has raised $64,166.00 in pledges as of this post; there is also an option to contribute by snail mail or by bank deposit as well.
Clay Sannar was the oldest of seven brothers — two of whom died as infants — raised by Ron and Rita Sannar in Gridley, California; they had 11 children total. At age 19, Sannar became an LDS missionary in Dublin, Ireland, and afterward went to college at Brigham Young University in Utah. He grew up with the woman who would become his wife, Julie. They started dating at BYU and graduated together. Having earned an agronomy degree, Clay Sannar was hired by Soil Basics Corp., an agricultural chemical sales and distribution company in Visalia. He was general manager when he died.
Kenneth Ward's brother Mike Ward said that Kenneth attended the same Tulare Avenue church where Sannar was murdered as a teenager and that he suffered from bipolar disorder. Mike Ward said his brother probably fired his gun at police because he wanted officers to kill him. The LDS Church previously confirmed that Kenneth Ward is a former member who resigned in 2004.
A second funeral service will be held in Gridley on September 7th, after which Clay Sannar will be laid to rest at the Gridley-Biggs Cemetery. Sannar's parents still live in Gridley.