Clovis, CA New House Destroyed, Aug 1962



Clovis, Calif. (AP) -- The six children of BEN and BETTY FUNK died in a fire that destroyed their new home in this Fresno suburb Sunday despite valiant rescue tries by the father and neighbors.
One teen-age neighbor smashed through a window into the blazing home, and with hands slashed by broken glass, handed out four of the children. But they apparently were dead at the time.
The father and others broke more windows in desperate rescue attempts but were turned back by intense heat.
Fire Chief W. E. Riley said afterward the window smashing may have worsened the situation. "It let in wind drafts," he said.
The dead children were:
JOHN, 3.
DEBORAH, 21 months.
Deputy Coroner Walter Sechler said all had suffocated.
Authorities said cause of the fire was not immediately apparent and may not be learned for several days, pending check of the ashes.
FUNK, 32, a cabinet maker, was awakened by his wife, 28, at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday with a cry of "fire!"
He broke a window of their bedroom and tumbled outside, cut by glass fragments. Then FUNK and his brother, LEONARD, 20, who had been sleeping in the back yard, pulled MRS. FUNK through the window.
Her leg was broken when it bacame entangled between frame and sill.
Russell Welch, 19, who lives two houses away, heard screams of alarm, ran to help and battered in through a window.
He told newsmen later he found three of the children in bed and two others on the floor.
"I thought at the time they were dead," he said, but, while neighbors sprayed water on him with a lawn hose, he handed four of them outside to another neighbor. An unidentified policeman brought out the other two.
The parents were taken to a Fresno hospital for treatment of shock and their injuries.

Delaware County Daily Times Chester Pennsylvania 1962-08-27


Mr. Funk still mourns the

Mr. Funk still mourns the loss of his children Mrs. Funk has passed. Suspicion of arson will always be there. Mr. Funk is sure that someone with I'll feelings toward him set fire to the home.

Fire deaths of the Funk kids

I lived on the next block and was traumatized by the fire and all those children that died. I was only 7 but I still remember looking out our front door that night, seeing the orange glow, the black smoke in the air and the sound of fire engines and voices that I couldn't understand.
I was so afraid to sleep that I was forcing myself to stay awake for days until my folks asked a Clovis Fireman to come and visit. He set up an escape plan for our family and answered questions until I felt like our family was prepared so nothing would happen to us. But I never got over that horror, knowing the kids died there.
And the slab where the house had been remained bare until I was out of high school. In fact, I was sitting on the edge of that slab on Aug 16 1972 when my mom drove up to say my dad had been in a car accident. He died that night and every detail of that day is part of that memory.
But I have oftened wondered how only the parents survived. A few years ago there was a news article about a new investigation that would answer that question but I never heard if there was finally resolution.
I didn't know any of the children but I felt so sad for the loss of all their lives and what they might have been. And maybe its because I was so young when it happened and also the enormous loss of so many that I asked my 86 yr old mom about it just yesterday. Unfortunately her memory is not very good and was not of any help. I would like to think that someone has been able to resolve any doubt or question about blame by now. If this was not an accident then this was the most horrific crime I've ever witnessed and I wonder who's left to seek justice for the kids after all this time?
I hope they died by accident with no one to blame because the alternative is so evil . But I think I would like to know for sure. For all I know I could be the only one asking questions on behalf of the kids. You never know.