EVANSVILLE − Charlie and Martina Hite were so inseparable that it was hard to imagine one without the other.
The couple worked, laughed and loved together. Those who knew the Hites, who were employed in the meat department at Evansville’s Fresh Market store, say they exuded goodness and deserved each other in the best way possible.
Married for six years, the Hites “were better together, enjoying life together,” the Rev. John Eaton said at the couple’s funeral Tuesday, attended by an overflow crowd.
“We weren’t ready for this,” he said. “Nobody was.”
Charlie Hite, 43, and Martina Hite, 37, were killed Wednesday when their North Weinbach Avenue home suddenly and inexplicably exploded. A 29-year-old woman in a neighboring home, Jessica Teague, also died.
The blast sent debris so high it could be seen over the trees. Thirty-nine nearby properties were damaged, and 11 can’t be salvaged.
An investigation of what happened is just beginning and could take a long time. Grief felt by the Hites’ family and countless friends, too, will last awhile.
Eaton read Psalm 46, which starts by saying, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Even when answers aren’t clear, Eaton said, the Bible “lets us know there is peace in knowing God.”
Several Evansville Police Department officers attended the Hites’ service at Alexander Funeral Home West Chapel. Eaton said the Hite family is grateful for actions of first responders following the explosion.
Many Harrison High School football players, wearing their red and back uniforms, also paid respects. Charlie Hite, a 1998 North High School graduate, enjoyed volunteering with Harrison’s football team shooting video and performing other tasks. Charlie’s brother, Steven, is the squad’s equipment manager.
On the afternoon of the explosion, the brother had planned to be at Harrison’s team practice.
Charlie Hite worked for Fresh Market since it opened 12 years ago and took part in the store's ribbon cutting. He later convinced store manager Mindy Marchand to bring Martina aboard.
In the Fresh Market meat department, the Hites were quite a duo, beloved by coworkers and customers, Marchard said. They worked three days a week.
“You could see them back there grinding chuck, making chicken and beef kabos, wrapping packages. But most importantly, they brought a smile to everyone’s face who approached that counter,” Marchand said. “ ... They took pride and what they did and how they did it."
The Hites' dedication to their work "was only topped by their love and admiration for each other," Marchand said.
Charlie Hite had a booth at Cowboy Jim's, the flea market on South Green River Road where he was always "trying to make a deal," Eaton said. He loved the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Cardinals, as well as Indiana University and University of Evansville basketball, and talking to his buddies on CB radio.
"He lived his life to the absolute fullest," Eaton said.
Martina Hite, a 2005 graduate of Central High School, loved watching scary movies with her older sister, her pets, purple outfits and playing Special Olympics basketball, bowling and corn toss. Compared to Charlie, Martina “was the quiet one,” Eaton said.
The funeral audience laughed and cried at the playing of an audio of Charlie Hite signing to Martina for her 35th birthday. It came two years ago during the height of COVID, so the Hites made the most of their celebration at home.
"I've never met more loving, caring or genuine individuals," Marchand said. "They will be together forever, and I'm so happy neither of them felt that pain of losing each other."
Jessica Teague's service set for Wednesday
Services for Teague were scheduled for Wednesday in Henderson, Kentucky, and are being handled by Benton-Glunt & Tapp Funeral Home.
According to her obituary, Teague worked for Rural King after graduating from Henderson County High School. She earned an associate's degree from Henderson Community College, working for Redbanks Nursing Home while in school there.
She then went to work at Toyota Boshoku in Princeton. She loved animals and enjoyed anime and video games.
Teague's family requested that local media not attend her service.
This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Evansville house explosion: 2 victims were always 'better together'