MOORE, Okla. — The Hufford family already knew tragedy up-close and personal. On May 20 of last year, the clan saw their two homes destroyed by the tornado that swept through the city of Moore.
Despite that, according to Kelli Hufford, the family managed to have their traditional weekly dinner. They used the destruction of their houses as a way to get closer to each other, and they all moved in together.
However, on Sept. 25, the family received more devastating news when Hufford's mother, Colleen, was killed in a work place attack at Vaughan Foods in Moore.
Despite the sudden and vicious attack that left Hufford decapitated and another co-worker, Traci Johnson, in critical condition, the family still plans to have the weekly dinner as planned.
"We will still have them," said Hufford. "We will still have them. She will still have her spot at the table and we will still have them. That's not going to change."
Alton Nolen, 30, is being charged with first-degree murder in Colleen Hufford's death and prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty. Authorities allege Nolen, who also worked at Vaughan Foods, attacked Hufford and another worker after Nolen was suspended from his job at the plant.
Kelli Hufford spoke to the media Wednesday at a press conference at the Moore Public Library. The press conference was set up by spokesman Tony Vann of Vann & Associates public relations firm.
Vann said beforehand that there would be no discussion of legal proceedings or the alleged assailant, Alton Nolen.
Hufford said she wanted to let the community and the nation know more about her mother, who worked as a customer service representative at Vaughan Foods for more than two years before her death.
"My mother, Colleen Hufford, was an amazing woman," Kelli Hufford said. "She was a loving wife to my father, an adoring mother to me and a fantastic grandmother, or me-maw, to my daughter Riley. At the age of 54 her life was abruptly and tragically taken from us. So many have asked to know more about my mom, the woman many of you all didn't know before Sept. 25."
Kelli Hufford describe her mother as a caring compassionate woman who grew up in Montana and moved to Oklahoma around 1984 with her husband KC. They were married for 30 years.
According to Kelli, one of her mother's biggest thrills were hockey and landscaping.
"It is safe to say she was one of if not the biggest fan of the Oklahoma City Blazers, and Oklahoma City Barons now," Hufford said. "Her first game was Christmas Eve in 1992. She thought it was a horrible idea at the time. She fell in love and it become a Christmas tradition along with our season tickets."
These are some of the things Hufford will tell her daughter Riley about her grandmother when she gets old enough and starts asking. She wants to leave out the gruesome details of her death for as long as possible.
"We are going to spare her some of the gruesome details until we feel she is at a more appropriate age to better comprehend and fully understand the severity of the situation. She is actually doing pretty well all things considered. We do know those questions will come down the road and we will deal with them as they arrive," she said.
According to Hufford, people from around Moore, the state and the nation have provided support and help in getting the family back on its feet since the tragedy. It's one of the things that has inspired her.
"It's nice to see that it's not just here local," Hufford said. "It's now nationwide."
To find out more about Colleen Hufford and ways to help the family, visit www.remembercolleen.org.