Family and friends wearing purple and gold gathered Thursday to say goodbye to Gretchen Vincent, 51, and her son, Michael Walker Vincent, 15, who lost their lives Saturday during a small plane crash in Lafayette.

Their funeral service was as big and bold as their love for the LSU Tigers, opening with the crowd shouting "Go, Tigers!" and concluding with people waving pompoms, towels and tissues to the LSU fight song as the caskets were carried from the church.

"Walker never knew life without his mother," said family friend Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. "So even as his journey of life on Earth began and came to an end, he was with her, hand-in-hand as they touched the face of God."

Kelly Orgeron, wife of LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, also spoke at the service, representing the school and team the mother and son loved.

After hearing all the wonderful things about them, Orgeron said, "I can't wait to one day meet Gretchen and Walker in heaven. I seriously cannot wait."

Orgeron said she was honored to represent LSU on such a special and somber day for family and friends who were mourning.

"We will be in constant prayer that God engulfs you in peace as only he can do," she said.

As for Walker and Gretchen, she said, "I know they'll be screaming on Jan. 13 when we take that national championship trophy home."

The mother and son were among five people who died as they prepared to fly to Atlanta for the LSU Tigers playoff football game Saturday. A sixth person aboard the plane was critically injured, as was a bystander whose car caught fire as a result.

The funeral service at Our Saviors Church was streamed live on the church's website.

Gretchen Vincent was possibly the world's greatest LSU Tigers fan, said Landry, who described her as one of his best friends.

He said Walker was an overachiever who touched people and wanted to help others. "He made friends with everyone," Landry said.

The service featured a video put together by Walker's classmates at Ascension Episcopal School. 

"We'll miss him so much, and we'll remember him always," his teacher Courtney Robert said. "Here's our tribute to you, Walker. We love you big big."

As the service came to a close, the Rev. Jacob Aranza told the crowded church he wanted to be bold enough to share what Gretchen and Walker Vincent would tell them if they could be with their friends and family again.

"Here's the first thing they would say: It's wonderful," Aranza said. "It's wonderful — 24-hour TigerVision. There isn't even a break between seasons. You just play football all year round."

In addition to the mother and son, Saturday's plane crash claimed the lives of the pilot, Ian E. Biggs, and passengers Robert Vaughn Crisp II and Carley McCord. 

A funeral service for Crisp will be held Friday. Funeral services for McCord and for Biggs will be held Saturday.

Stephen "Wade" Berzas, the only one of the six aboard the plane to survive the crash, remains hospitalized in critical condition at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette.

Another person, Danielle Britt, is hospitalized at University Medical Center in New Orleans after suffering serious burns when her vehicle flipped and caught on fire as the plane crashed to the ground.

The Vincent family asked for donations to be made in lieu of flowers to the Community Foundation of Acadiana's Gretchen and Walker Vincent Memorial Fund at 1035 Camellia Boulevard, Suite 100, in Lafayette.

Martin & Castille's Southside location at 600 E. Farrel Road in Lafayette handled funeral arrangements.


Email Megan Wyatt at mwyatt@theadvocate.com.