The tornado slammed into the home of Steve Courtney, with his daughter and granddaughter inside with him.
Courtney - a father three times, husband, blue-collar electrician - did what daddies and granddaddies do.
He saved his family before himself.
As the storm bore down on the house, Courtney got his daughter and granddaughter safely into an interior hallway.
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Seconds later, clutching Melody, the little black and white Boston terrier the family loved so much, Courtney called out, "God, save my family!" as he dove for cover himself.
"My daughter Rachel said he dove behind the couch and was praying out loud for God to save his daughter and his granddaughter first," said Sharon Courtney, Steve's wife.
"The chimney fell on him. He didn't have a chance," she said.
Rachel and her daughter, Ashlyn, were scraped and cut, but they survived.
Oran Steve Courtney, 60, was gone.
"His father is up in heaven right now, with my Steve by his side, so proud of him," said Betty Courtney, Steve Courtney's mother.
Silas Courtney, Steve's father, died last month at age 87. Betty Courtney's home is just a few hundred yards from her son's home, but it was unscathed as the tornado swept through.
"Steve was always one of those people who did the right thing, put other people first," Betty Courtney said. "I heard the storm. I saw the storm. But it didn't hit my house. It hit ... it hit his house. It hit my son."
Sharon Courtney was at Wednesday night Bible study and choir practice when she received the frantic phone call about the storm from her daughter, who survived in the destroyed home. The couple has three children: Nathan, Jeremy, and Rachel.
On the way home from church to what was left of her home, Sharon Courtney began praying. Not just for her own family, but because she heard that two other people were dead and many were injured.
"All I could think about was how this had hurt so many people," Sharon Courtney said.
The Rev. Jerry Devinney, pastor of Oakdale Baptist Church and a friend of Steve Courtney's since childhood, called Courtney's saving his daughter and granddaughter "Steve's final gift to his family."
"There is no doubt, none, that the Steve Courtney I have known all my life ... had to make a split-second decision to save his daughter and that grandbaby before thinking of his own life," Devinney said. "It is his last act and truly selfless act. It was a heroic act."
The tornado was so powerful that as of Thursday night the roof had yet to be found.
"Never in my life have I seen destructive power like this," Devinney said. "Yet, in the face of that power, Steve Courtney gave his life for others."
The family is trying to deal with Steve's death as best it can, Sharon Courtney said, and they appreciate all the prayers, well-wishes and help family members received Thursday after the storm. "I lost my husband who I love with all my heart," Sharon Courtney said. "What I wish for is he was here with me. What I wish for is someone to make this tornado go away - but it can't go away."
Just minutes before the storm hit, Courtney had gone the few hundred yards to his mother's house to visit her. Since Silas Courtney died last month, he went to see his mother each day. Sometimes, Steve would cry and talk about his father.
Wednesday, Courtney and his mother ate spaghetti together as Steve got ready to go to church.
Courtney was one of those men who, even as a child, was thoughtful and gracious.
At age 10, in 1962, Steve wrote an award-winning essay about a pig who grew into a giraffe that was eaten by astronaut John Glenn with the help of then-president John F. Kennedy.
An article about his essay was published in The Herald, along with his picture as he reached up high atop a stool - a clipping his mother still has.
"He was so proud of that, and we were so proud of him," Betty Courtney said. "They called him little Stevie Courtney."
But Betty did not get a chance to bring up that essay at dinner, and Steve did not get that chance to go to choir practice.
Rushing out the door of his mother's house to get to church, Betty Courtney said, Courtney detoured to his home quickly as the storm approached.
He was out the door before Betty Courtney could tell him what she told him a thousand times.
"His whole life - Steve was 60 years old - I always told him I loved him when he left me," Betty Courtney said. "He rushed out, and I did not get to tell him that I loved him.
"He knew I loved him so - I told him his whole life. But this last time I didn't say so. And now he is gone."