Friends honor Lake Geneva women killed in accident


Hundreds gathered Sunday at the Melrose home of Cherie Ann McArthur and Cathleen Carter to celebrate their lives. The couple were killed Jan. 2 by an alleged drunken driver while they were riding a motorcycle on Intestate 75. TOP: Les Pheil, middle, consoles Patricia Greer, right, and Sonia Inoue at the memorial.

DAVID MASSEY/Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 12:07 a.m.
MELROSE - Symbols of grief lined the path to their home.
In front of Take Me Places, the coffee shop on State Road 26 that Cherie Ann McArthur and Cathleen Carter ran for four years, until their Jan. 2 death, a memorial of flowers and white teddy bears warned that the popular gathering place was closed.
On the unpaved, sandy road leading to the couple's Lake Geneva house, strains of "Tears in Heaven" floated through incense-heavy air.
But the multicolored saris and bright streamers draped along the front gate to the couple's home hinted that the couple hundred people who gathered to grieve Sunday were doing their best to celebrate the women's lives with a party that would make them proud.
"Dear Cherie and Cathleen, we mourned your passing all week," said Jaye Perrett, speaking in a booming voice into a microphone to a crowd sitting on lawn chairs and leaning on trees. "Today, we rejoice."
McArthur, 49, who was described as the unofficial mayor of this unincorporated town east of Gainesville, and Carter, 38, described as McArthur's quiet source of strength, were killed by a drunken driver whose license had been revoked years earlier, according to Highway Patrol troopers.
The women were wearing helmets while riding on McArthur's Harley-Davidson motorcycle near Palatka on State Road 100, but were thrown from the motorcycle by the impact of the crash and died soon after, troopers said.
Sunday, bikers in black leather vests sobbed over an incense-laden memorial. Women in gauzy white pants danced to keyboard music by the artist Flash Silvermoon and shook maracas toward an enlarged photo of their friends.
A group called the Renegade Levy County Color Guard presented Dale Hodgkins, who has kept the coffee shop running since their death, with a folded American flag in honor of McArthur's service in the U.S. Navy.
All the groups drawn to the women tried to imagine the crash as their friends' spirits rising rather than their bodies falling.
"We were with Cherie when she passed," said Kirsten Engstrom. "I believe their spirits flew into the sky when their bodies did, but Cherie's little heart kept beating. Shortly after we told her what happened to Cathleen, she left us."
They celebrated with color, wearing the bright, patterned saris McArthur loved to wear at the shop and on her bike. Lou and Cindy Carrion, who married after McArthur played matchmaker with a heavy hand, wore matching Hawaiian shirts in her honor.
Friends said that though the Carrions were the only marriage to come from the Take Me Places community, McArthur united souls every day the store was open.
"There's every kind of person here," Hodgkins said. "Cherie loved everybody."
They celebrated with song, lifting shaky voices to sing their friends' favorite music, from keyboard music to a throaty version of "Wind Beneath My Wings," which Perrett said she sang to Cathleen from Cherie.
They celebrated by promising to honor the women's lives by keeping their community of friends together.
Perrett promised that dozens of bikers, enough to fill a courtroom, will drive from the coffee shop to the court appearance for Randy Morin, 33, of Satsuma, who faces vehicular manslaughter charges in the women's death.
Hodgkins promised to drive past the flowers and teddy bears to open Take Me Places at 6 a.m. today, just like they would have.
In the Sunday afternoon sunshine, the women's friends started by promising to keep singing.
"The union of friendship they have forged must not end here," Perrett said to the crowd. "When you call each other, greet each other in the way I'm told they always did, by singing to each other: 'Here Comes the Sun.' "
Perrett waited for the crowd to join in, singing through tears.
"Here comes the sun, dun, dun, dun. Here comes the sun. It's all right."
Amy Reinink can be reached at (352) 374-5088 or reinina@gvillesun.com.

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