“God is really working,” said Lisa King, secretary of Second Baptist Church in Fayetteville.
“Through all this (Betty Tew has been) a very strong person. That’s an inspiration to see.”
Tew’s husband, Lawrence, died Feb. 19, and the family buried him Feb. 22. Early the next morning, smoke woke Tew who escaped the house fire in her nightgown and more importantly, with her daughter and son-in-law.
Her cell phone, eyeglasses, credit cards and other important information and mementos were destroyed within a matter of hours. Some photos, edges singed, survived.
“People are trying to ask ‘what can we do’,” King said, but Tew responds, “Where would I put it?”
A column in the Fayetteville Observer on Tuesday said the couple had lived in the house 17 years. The same day, two checks arrived from people within the community. A larger church in Fayetteville offered funds to buy Tew a pair of replacement eyeglasses.
Tew doesn’t know it yet, but the church is taking up a love offering tonight at their weekly meeting.
Right now, Tew is staying in a hotel and looking for an apartment.
“God is sustaining her,” King said.
Tew is planning to rebuild in the same spot, King shared.
“She is handling it better than I thought she could,” said Troy Vance, Tew’s son-in-law, to the Fayetteville Observer.
Tew’s sister, Linda Letourneau, was interviewed also. She said they “just literally ran to Wal-Mart, brought two duffel bags and started filling them” with essentials. Out-of-town family, who were on hand for the funeral, lended support. Neighbors also pitched in, bringing blankets to them as they escaped and offering food and a place to stay.
A Cumberland County official said “no foul play” was suspected in the fire.
The fire started around 3:30 a.m. Monday. The family examined the ruins Monday afternoon. The newspaper said the roof had collapsed.
Lawrence Edward Tew, 67, had been pastor at Second Baptist for a couple of years but had been sick for a while. He suffered a second heart attack in 2008 and had open heart surgery in August 2008.
“He’s been trying to bounce back since then,” King said. “It never let up.”
Infections, lungs filling with fluid, it never seemed to end, King said.
“She’s been taking care of him for a long time,” King said, along with Tew’s parents.
He was ordained in 1963 at Immanuel Baptist Church. Prior to coming to Second Baptist, Tew was pastor at Providence and Cumberland Baptist churches in Fayetteville and Wade Baptist Church in Wade.
A member of Cape Fear Valley Medical Center’s Friends of the Heart Center board of directors, Tew was also chairman of the Zipper Club of Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and was on the evangelism committee of New South River Baptist Association.
He is survived by his wife, Betty J. Tew of Eastover; daughter, Vicki T. Vance of Corinth, Ky.; son, Kevin Dean Tew of Sanford; four sisters, Lois Croom of Fayetteville, Evelyn Lashley of Sunset Harbor, Bonnie Woods of Illinois and Barbara Hurley of Maryland; four brothers, John Tew, James Earl Tew and Clarence Tew, all of Fayetteville, and James N. Tew Jr. of Wilmington; and two grandsons.
Memorials to the Baptist Children’s Home, P.O. Box 338, Thomasville, NC 27361-0338.
To help Betty Tew, contact Second Baptist Church, 522 Person St., Fayetteville, NC 28301-5868, or (910) 483-6690.