Friday, April 24, 2009

Obituary and Video

April 24, 2009

When Walter and I went to the funeral home two weeks ago, the woman there pulled out a form and told us she would help us write the obituary. I couldn't imagine fitting Erin's life into a standardized form, so I just smiled at her and said something like "Walter and I write for a living. I think we'll do it ourselves." I think she thought we were a little foolish. This is what we came up with. If you read all the way to the bottom, I have embedded another YouTube video that someone made for Erin (I say someone, because I can't figure out who did it). I can't think of a more beautiful gift that this person could give than to put together this loving video for us. The note on YouTube says to listen all the way to the end so you can hear Erin singing and laughing.

Erin Channing Buenger

June 20, 1997 – April 9, 2009

Erin Channing Buenger, 11, of Bryan died peacefully at her home on the morning of Thursday, April 9, 2009. A visitation and celebration of her life will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, April 12, in the Fellowship Hall of First Presbyterian Church, located ay 1100 Carter Creek Pkwy. in Bryan. A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Monday, April 13, at the church.

Erin entered the world full of joy and energy in Bryan on June 20, 1997. Her bright red hair, beautiful smile and zest for living life to its fullest marked her as special from the beginning. She attended Covenant Presbyterian Day School, Mary Branch Elementary and Jane Long Middle School where she was part of the Inquire Academy. Erin earned nothing but A's throughout her years in the Bryan schools and even during her difficult last few months continued to work hard at every subject. Indeed every subject fascinated her from art to mathematics.

At age five Erin was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a difficult to cure form of childhood cancer. She lived 82 months with the disease, but she never let it slow her down. She lived to the end without fear. Erin worked diligently to increase federal funding of children's cancer research and became a zealous and successful Congressional lobbyist.

Cancer, however, never defined her life, and she passionately pursued her interests in softball, horseback riding, creative arts, cooking, and many other things. She played soccer with intensity and verve and was a member of the Mystic '97 competitive team. Unable to play the past few months, she turned to new things. Her last week of life she designed and created fused glass art pieces and directed the making of lanyards to raise money for the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation.

What defined Erin most was her relationship to other people of all ages. She formed close ties to many that she met at school, church, through her trips to Washington, and during her lengthy treatments in Houston at Texas Children's Hospital or at local medical facilities. Her smile and warmth made each of her many friends feel special, and her empathetic spirit, understanding, and insights were a balm to them in troubled times. Certainly Erin displayed typical human failings and foibles, and she especially did not suffer fools and foolishness gladly. Still she left behind an example of how to cope with adversity and a model of how to live each day to the fullest.

Her parents, Vickie and Walter Buenger, brother, Davis Buenger, and grandmother, Madge Luquette, all of Bryan, survive Erin, as do many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Her parents, brother and grandmother wish to thank the relatives, friends, coaches, trainers and teachers who contributed so much to Erin's joyful life. Special thanks go to the numerous health care providers who over the years did their best to keep Erin well, including Jesse Parr, Beverly Nutall and the rest of the staff of University Pediatrics in Bryan-College Station, and Heidi Russell at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Erin's Let's Do It Fund at the First Presbyterian Church of Bryan or to the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation/Lunch for Life.

To express sympathy and learn more about Erin, go to If you have a special memory of Erin, please consider joining The Erin Project.


  1. The video was beautiful and I love Erin's laugh at the end. Erin's smile just jumps off the screen in EVERY single picture.
    Kim Kow

  2. What a great video. Erin's incredible happy spirit is so evident in each picture. What a blessing that someone made this video for all of us to enjoy her.
    Kirstin Brekken Shea

  3. Rebecca, Boston, MAApril 24, 2009 at 12:29 PM

    What a beautiful girl and beautifully lived life.

  4. What an incredible tribute, for an incredible family! I wish for only 1/4 of the spunk sweet Erin possessed. I think of you guys everyday, and pray for your continued strength.

    Kari M

    That giggle...LOVE IT!!! ;-)

  5. That precious little laugh gets me every time when I watch the video :-(. What a precious child. God bless you, and you always remain in my prayers.

  6. The video is remarkable! I love the giggle at the end, and also all of the video of Erin dancing and smiling.

    On Wednesday night, I was at a DMB concert, and in one of the songs he sings, the chorus starts out with the phrase "Celebrate we will, for life is short, but sweet for certain". When I heard it that night, I immediately thought of Erin, who's life was short, but most certainly sweet.

    Thinking of you guys always.


  7. As a Minnesotan, I just love the photo with the snowballs. Jane

  8. Dear Vickie,
    The obituary and the video are so very beautiful! You and Walter are very good writers! All of Erin's pictures are so joyful,so full of beauty, life and love. Oh, how I wanted to be at the ceremony in Bryan, but alas,Molly's Prius was down;and there was no one out in West Texas to fix it! However,I have played the tributes part 1,2&3 several times and this last video of Erin 5 times just tonight!!! It is so fantastic!; and I too, love the singing and the giggle at the end of the video! Someone very close to you and to Erin made it! and set it to music!
    Did you get my sympathy note with check? I sent it from Austin Texas addressed to you and Walter and Davis, but at the Church address, because that was the one posted in your blog! Margot finally, gave me yours after I had already mailed it to the church! I also might have written the check wrong as I addressed it to Lunch for Life instead of Childrens Neuroblastoma Foundation. Please let me know; and Please keep posting your beautiful writings,tributes and videos of Erin. Sending strength in prayer to you ,Walter and Davis
    Very Fondly, Sara Maley "Sam's Gram"

  9. Erin's never been a fill-in-the-blank sort of gal! It must have been hard to try and capture her spirit and life restricted to words on a page, but you did a beautiful job. WAY better than anyone else could have done. I play the video every day; I think I might be an addict. Yesterday I got this prayer in an email:

    Saint Theresa's Prayer

    May today there be peace within.

    May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

    May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

    May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

    May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.

    Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

    It is there for each and every one of us.

    I swear when I read it, I heard it in Erin's voice.

    Love to you, Walter, Davis, Willie, and especially Teddy.

  10. Oh my, she is ABSOLUTELY beautiful inside and out AND very inspiring! I say is, because even though she's in Heaven with the King, she is still spreading her wit, beauty and love for life, inspiring MANY, MANY people. I am 23 and wish I were more like her! I truly think reading about her has made me become a better person. I have started to appreciate the TINY things in life. Thank you, Erin Buenger! You will never be forgotten!

  11. Great Video! Loved the giggle and laugh!!! So precious and what a great memory!!!!

    Love you all,


  12. OMG! LOVE the u-tube video. what a gift that is. still holding you close in prayer. Missy

  13. Beautiful video for beautiful Erin. I, too, love her precious giggle!

    Kimberly Reeves

  14. I used to read a woman's blog who for the past 12 years or so has written about how she is dying of various ailments. Erin's blog has always been about living, not dying, and that is a breath of fresh air for people like me who tend to feel sorry for themselves. I hope you'll continue to write more when you feel up to it.

  15. I was just going through to see some of the children I have been praying for ... and I am so sorry for your loss.

  16. What a beautiful Vidoe that someone created for yall. What an amazing person she truely is not was because she will forever be in our souls. We continue to pray for you always have always will :)

    Tracy Ash

  17. how can one child be so full of smiles? you just can't help but smile through the tears. Erin is beautiful.

  18. What a lovely dedication to a beautiful young lady.

    Jeff Olson
    Madison, WI