Family, Neighbors Grieve Over Victim Of Home Explosion

Lucinia "Lucy" Tolliver
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Topeka neighborhood is grieving after news came over the weekend that Lucinia Tolliver has died - five days after a cut gas line caused her home to explode.

Family and neighbors remember "Lucy," as she was called, as a healthy and vibrant lady.

"She was loved by all," her nephew Mark Meers said.

Tolliver was a member of Christ the King Catholic Church and worked for the Topeka Capital-Journal for more than 22 years as a typesetter.

Meers, who is also acting as an attorney for the family, said his aunt passed away Friday afternoon, at approximately 4 p.m from complications following the explosion.

Tolliver suffered severe third-degree burns when a gas explosion leveled her house.

"She was a very active lady," neighbor Linda Mittelstedter, who lives a few houses down on Cheyenne Road, said. "When I found out her age was 81, I was surprised, because she was active, out in her yard."

Neighbors said the Tolliver home was beautiful and immaculately kept.

In Tolliver's neighborhood, people who knew her said she was nice to everyone.

"When the explosion happened, I was surprised anyone even got out alive," Mittelstedter said, "Then I was hoping her burns weren't that [extensive], that she would have a chance to make it."

Shock and sadness mixed with anger and anxiety over the cause of her death.

"She was a sweet old lady," Ernest Wiley, another neighbor, said. "She was nice to everybody. She didn't deserve to die. It wasn't even her fault."

"It could happen to any of any time," he said.

A gas leak in an adjacent yard was cut during a sprinkler system installation last Monday.

As investigations into the incident continue, neighbors say their community won't return to normal any time soon.

Visitation and Service:

The family will receive friends Thursday, from 6-8 p.m. at Kevin Brennan Family Funeral Home on 2801 SW Urish Rd where a parish rosary will be prayed at 6 p.m.

Mass of Christian Burial will be 10 a.m., Friday at Christ the King Catholic Church.

The burial will follow at Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Christ the King Grade School or St Jude Children's Research Hospital sent in care of the funeral home on 2801 SW Urish Rd.