St. Francis Xavier dedicates service to coaches

STILLWATER, Okla. - The Cowboy community continues to mourn the loss of four faithful Oklahoma State University figures.

Head women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna died in a plane crash Thursday afternoon. Along with former state Sen. Olin Branstetter, and his wife, Paula.

St. Francis Xavier Church in Stillwater was packed from pew to pew Sunday morning to remember the victims.

"Our community has suffered a serious loss, a grave loss, a tragic loss, one we can't fully put our arms around," says Father Ken Harder.

Church members say even with their consuming world of sports, Budke and Serna were very faithful members.

"He was just a great family man. You can always count on him being here every Sunday, basketball game, or no basketball game," says Ryan Blake, a member at St. Francis Xavier.

Father Harder adds, "I know that while they worked hard, they kept their priorities straight, family, their faith and friends. It's evident in the outpouring for them."

Coach Serna was in her seventh season at Oklahoma State. She previously worked under Budke at Louisiana Tech. Coach Budke leaves behind a wife and three children.

As the community and church try to make sense of this tragedy, OSU fans continue to wear their support.

Father Harder says, "the whole town, there is just a subdued spirit. But as people of faith, we intuitively know there is something more. This is not the end for them."

Church officials say a memorial service for both coaches is set for Tuesday at St. Francis Xavier. Then on Friday, will be Coach Budke's funeral. The times have not been announced yet.

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