Clay Center Community mourns the loss of church leader

CLAY CENTER, Kan. (KSNT) – Carla Rene Polson, of Blue Rapids, and Gerald Baxter, of Clay Center, both died in a car crash on U.S. 24 at Burton Rd. on Friday. They and four others were heading to Lansing Correctional Facility to feed the inmates.

The other four people in the van were all taken to the hospital. The church’s pastor, Robert Stewart, and another church member, Martha Hanson, have been released from the hospital.

Baxter’s wife, Ruth, and Stewart’s wife, Barbara, are still in the hospital.

The youth ministries leader of Clay Center Wesleyan Church, Steve Wohler, said the Sunday morning service was a somber one as people in the congregation asked about the crash. But, he said there was a sense of peace in the church as well.

“We put our hope in God, and we know God’s in control of all things,” he said. “And He’s there, and there was just a spirit that God was there.”

Wohler said Baxter contributed a great deal to the church. Baxter was the church’s trustee, vice chair, maintenance and sound person.

“He’s a pillar of the church, and we’re going to miss him a lot,” Wohler said. “We know he’s in a better place, and I’m sure he’s happy where he’s at even though we miss him a lot down here.”

Baxter’s neighbor Tim Kaufman said the community will be there to support Baxter’s wife and their children.

“I know the church will be very supportive of them there and helping them out,” he said. “And us neighbors whatever we can do for them we’ll do also.”

Baxter said the church is ready to help Baxter’s family, as well as the others involved in the crash, as soon as they know how they can best help.

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