Remembering the 1967 Belvidere tornado

Here are some first-hand memories from the tornado that struck on this day in 1967. 24 people were killed, 13 of them children. There has not been a school-related tornado in the United States that killed as many children since.

The weeks after were horrible. National Guard on horseback, multiple funerals, strict curfew. Prayers to the families who lost lives. -Brenda Larson

A brother of one of my classmates was killed and my very best friend Suzette Anderson was badly hurt. -Susan Quincer Hughes

My dad was missing for several hour as he was due to drive home by Chrysler when it hit. Then, there was the snow – God covering the damage with His blanket of white. -Valerie Wendt

The sky was black but I don’t think the word “tornado” even entered my mind until I heard glass breaking. I’ve had tornado dreams for years, often waking up with my heart pounding. -Pan DiBenedetto

I remember a friend calling down the hall saying a tornado was coming. As I walked out, the glass doors blew in and the lights went out. Then I heard the sound of a train. -Bonnie Pierce

I was a young reporter for the Daily Republican and my dad was mayor. Our house was destroyed. Life was chaotic. What impressed me was the unity and the help we received. -Bill Hetland

I was in my car when it hit. The door was ripped open and the windows exploded. I tried to look at the tornado but gravel from the school roof was blasted into my eyes. -Greg Collins

They tell me I was lucky. I only had both legs and pelvis broken. Our bus was just on the north side of the school. I think there were five people killed on my bus. -Dale Marks

My brother Bruce (seen to the left) was killed at age 13. I was only two at the time so sadly I have no recollection of my brother. -Pam Lindley

At six, this is one of my earliest memories. After the storm, a piece of wood pierced the wall and playing cards were randomly wedged into our siding. -Sheila Bush Uscier

My mom pulled me off her bed as a giant hailstone came through the already-broken window. I remember her crying days later after seeing the school buses sitting at Chrysler. -James Llorca

My dad was in the Guard and helped. My mom (a nurse) treated people at St. Joes. We knew Larry Decker and bus driver Mr. Juhlin who were both killed. -Kirk Ritzman

My bus (#30) was moved 100 yards by the tornado. I was wedged under a seat, my shirt soaked red with blood. I saw one, little body half buried in the mud. That memory, an 11 year old should never witness. In this picture, I am on the left (shirt tail out). That concerned look on my face marked the end of my childhood. -Ken Anderson


Posted under news, tornado

This post was written by qni_it on April 21, 2011

4 Comments so far

  1. Christina Joesten April 21, 2012 3:02 PM

    My mother also knew nothing until the debris cloud was flinging boards, dirt, everything. She had been making pudding and my baby brother Rich Knuth was getting some early, while Ray and I played in the basement. She had warned us about tornados as a horrible thing that you never recover from. LoL She grabbed Rich and flew down the stairs screaming Get In The Corner, It’s a Tornado. We lived behind Pacemaker, I watched the window well turn brown, then the bits of debris got bigger and the air looked darker and darker, the basement walls shook. We prayed. It got black, completely dark, no visible light and then the roaring, shaking monster moved on. The sky looked like strange popcorn black, white and Blue. So much pink insulation was everywhere. Whole houses just Gone. When my father found us, gathered in Barb Staton’s house, he fell to his knees and sobbed, holding us, so grateful.

    I was 6.

  2. Karen McLain-Havens April 20, 2017 6:49 PM

    I was only 8 months old when the tornado hit.. My life would be forever changed by this event.. I was in the pacemaker grocery store with my mother when the storm hit.. my mother laid over the top of me to protect me and she was hit by the debris.. she passed away two days later from her injuries.. her name was Sandra McLain.. she was only 21 years old.. I never knew my mother but she’s my hero.. she saved my life that day

  3. Randy Truxell October 20, 2017 2:55 PM

    Our bus was in the subdivision across from the high school,I was in the seat behind the driver
    I saw the tornado and it picked up our bus.
    It is pictured on page 13,of the first memorial journal it was placed side by side next to ahouse
    If you want the whole story ,I would like a copy of that journal.
    We lived in the new sibdivision close to the big store,Our brand new house and car were destroyed

  4. Randy Truxell July 22, 2018 7:59 PM

    I would like a copy of the memorial book.
    How much is the price?

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