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Birthdays celebrated for young men killed in Johnson Co. tornado

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

Two best friends, both born in August, died together during the Mar. 2 tornado outbreak in Johnson County.

16-year-old Sean Shepherd's family came together to celebrate his 17th birthday on August 9. His best friend, Greg Perry, who died with him, would have been 21 on Aug. 4.

The young men are remembered by their families, who have marked their first birthdays without them.

A cemetery might be a place many come to mourn, but on this August night, it was a place where loved ones gathered to celebrate the lives two best friends from Prestonsburg.

"They were hardly ever together without each other, if you seen one you seen the other," said Greg Perry's mother, Wendy Johnson.

Shepherd's mother said she wanted to remember his loving smile and thoughtfulness.

"He wouldn't go out the door unless I heard him say I love you mom," said Patricia Shepherd.

Shepherd said she knew Greg from when her daughter, Sara, dated him, before she died on Feb. 26, 2011 in a car accident.

"I buried my daughter exactly one year before my son was killed," said Perry.
"It's just been really rough."

Perry and Johnson said the boys grew closer after Sara died, though they were four years apart in age.

"They were best friends, they leaned on one another, they were the daylight to each other's dark," said Johnson.
"When they lost sara, they were like glue, hardly ever together without each other."

The families came together again "to honor them, to let them know that we still care and think about them every day," Johnson said.

Ater an unexpected ending, which loved ones said will lead to new memories.

"He would have wanted me to. and he would have wanted all his friends to be here for him," said Shepherd.

Shepherd released 17 balloons for Sean's birthday, each held by a loved one.

She said it was hard to see both of her babies buried, but, "they are always on my mind. always will be til the day I die."

The families say they plan to continue the tradition.

Greg Perry's family held his memorial birthday on Aug. 4.


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