By Jonathan Mummolo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Veronica DuBose left her family and friends while she was still young. So they chose yesterday to rejoice in the quality of her days, not the quantity.
DuBose, 29, one of the nine people killed in last week's Red Line Metro crash, was a caregiver, a Christian, a doting mother of two who loved to dance and sing Anita Baker songs, and a friend who never hesitated to open her heart -- or her pocketbook -- to help, family members said at her funeral.
When the train crash occurred, DuBose, whose ambition was to become a highly trained nurse, was on her way to attend classes in phlebotomy, the practice of drawing blood for analysis or transfusion.
"She did not make her planned destination, but she did make it home," said the Rev. Susan Newman, who delivered the eulogy to the several hundred people crowded in Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ yesterday in Northwest Washington.
"Veronica was not alone on that train," Newman said. "Her God was already there."
At the service, filled with joyful hymns and hopeful words that brought congregants to their feet several times, DuBose's family and friends offered tributes, praising her kindness, professionalism and fun-loving spirit.
A District native, DuBose graduated from Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School, where she loyally cheered on the football team. Her enthusiasm for the game followed her all her life, and she was described as liking two teams: the Washington Redskins, and whoever beat the Dallas Cowboys.
She attended Lord Fairfax Community College and moved to Culpeper for a time but returned to the District and worked at an assisted living facility. DuBose was devoted to her family, those who knew her said, and she didn't mind being called a "daddy's girl." On Father's Day, she left her dad, Erwin, a card reading: "When I find a husband I hope he's like you. You are MY HERO and I LOVE YOU!"
At the funeral, several of her cousins wore T-shirts showing a smiling DuBose, her hand on her hip, with words that read, "Gone but not forgotten."
The crash, the deadliest in Metro's 33-year history, left some at the service struggling for answers.
"People pay money, good money, to ride that system," said Diane Dawes of Lanham, a relative of DuBose's. "She was a young person that went away. What can we say? . . . I hope [Metro] can straighten out the problems they had."
DuBose left two children -- 7-year-old Raja and infant Ava. A reminder of how interconnected Metro riders can be became clear to officials at Raja's former school, Whittier Education Center, two days after the crash. As they struggled to come to grips with the loss of their beloved aide Dennis Hawkins in the crash, they learned that Raja's mother had perished in it, too.
Principal Nicole Clifton said the school is reeling. Officials at Whittier plan to name its library after Hawkins and are setting up an assistance fund for Raja's family.
"It seems like a dream," Clifton said. "It's still just shocking for us all."