Whether close friends and family or acquaintances, the Ravenna community remembered Sierra Thornton as kind and loving.
She was known for her motherliness toward her younger sisters and children at the Ravenna First Church of the Nazarene, where fellow parishioners remember her beautiful singing voice.
But behind loving blue eyes and a radiant, infectious smile, she also hid a spunky and playfully defiant side.
Sierra's friend Savannah knew her through youth group at their church. During one retreat, Savannah recalled, she and her "partner in crime" stole away from their youth director to hangout by a rock with a boy neither knew. The duo would stay up late and sneak their counselor's candy in addition to other pranks.
"As responsible and everything as she was, she was also fun," Savannah said. "That's what I just loved about her. And I'm going to miss her like crazy."
Savannah was among several hundred mourners who attended a candlelight vigil at the church to grieve the community's loss and celebrate Sierra's memory.
Media were asked by church pastors not to directly interview anyone at the vigil.
"We loved her so much," said the Rev. Tracy Ogden Johnson. "I just keep thinking right now Sierra would laugh it off and be like, 'Why is everybody making such a big fuss about me?' But this group gathered here is a testimony to what she meant to her church family and the wider community."
Stories ranged from sad to gleeful to remorseful. In between cries and sniffles, a train whistle echoed in the distance, reminding the group of the circumstances of Sierra's untimely death.
One girl encouraged the crowd to remember Sierra "by her smile, not by what happened."
One boy, a fellow student, said he'll remember her beauty, especially her eyes.
A family friend recalled a trip to Cedar Point where Sierra pushed some reluctant adults to ride the Mantis. Sierra's signature smile was caught on the ride photo that she will keep forever.
One woman, whose family sat behind the Thornton's at church, said she will always remember the "joy in her face when she sings every Sunday morning."
That joy was equally prevalent at school where students would see her surrounded by friends and exchanging laughs and smiles.
Another girl recalled how Sierra befriended her in sixth grade. The student, who had just begun middle school, said she was shy; but Sierra made her feel welcomed. The two had all their classes together in seventh grade.
Not long after, the two began to squabble and drift apart.
"I really wish we wouldn't have," she said. "I really wanted a close relationship with her again. I wish I could've taken back some of the things I said and replace them with memories that I would remember and she would remember."
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Facebook: Jeremy Nobile, Record-Courier