St. Simons couple killed in train derailment in Montana – Action News Jax


A Georgia couple from St. Simons were killed in two on Saturday when an Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana.

Now the congregation mourns the loss of Don and Margie Varnadoe, described by a local pastor as “kind, generous, good-natured” people.

The Varnadoes were a large part of the St. Simons congregation that had been there since the 1970s, said Tom Jones, pastor of St. Simons United Methodist Church. The couple have been active Church members for the past six years, Jones told Action News Jax.

“There is a real sense of emptiness,” he said. Jones was shocked and heartbroken to learn of the Varnadoe’s sudden death. The couple was on the west coast for their anniversary trip. Jones remembers how much they looked forward to it.

“He was so excited about this train ride,” said Jones.

Jones says he had to change his Sunday morning sermon, which brought the news to many in his ward.

“We’re trying our best to get the message across, because that’s what the Varnados want.

Don was an active real estate agent and loved his church and community. He helped Jones count money for church on Mondays. Margie was a teacher and administrator for schools in Glynn County.

Jones says they both knew how to deal with people. “Full of life, always wanting to do something,” added Jones.

Jones finds solace in faith. “We mourn as people who have the hope that something good could come of it and certainly that they are in God’s hands.”

He knows that’s what the Varnados want. The couple left behind a son, daughter-in-law, and teenage grandson. A celebration of life for the Varnados will be held at St. Simons United Methodist Church on Saturday morning at 11:00 AM. The public is invited, says Jones.

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