Odessa family mourns loss of matriarch in arson fire

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 10:59 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - The dictionary defines home as ‘the usual residence of a person, family, or household.

The Rister family lost their home on Saturday when it was burned in an arson fire.

But there’s another definition of ‘home’ you might not find in a dictionary. It’s the people, love, and laughter that make a family whole. On Saturday, the Risters lost that home, too.

Jone Rister died in the fire. She was a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

“She had this heart the size of Texas. She would help anyone. She had love for everyone,” daughter-in-law Susann Rister said.

The family dropped everything when they got the call about the fire Saturday afternoon. When they arrived at the house, it was engulfed in flames. They watched firefighters frantically try to put out the fire, eventually getting to Jone.

After a brief stop at Medical Center Hospital, she was flown to the burn unit in Lubbock.

“We all told her bye,” daughter-in-law Crystal Rister said. “The kids love you. The grandkids love you. We’ll see you in Lubbock.”

The drive from Odessa to Lubbock takes about 2.5 hours. The Risters made it in half that time.

“She was already gone by the time we got there,” Crystal said.

While taking stock of what they’ve lost, the Risters never once mentioned a single item in the house.

“They’re replaceable,” Crystal said. “She’s not.”

Now, without their anchor – their matriarch - the Risters are in a cloud, heading in an uncertain direction.

“She was our everything,” Susann said. “She was the glue that held our family together. She was the grandmother that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren loved.”

And that’s how Jone Rister will be remembered by her family: as the home where the door was always open.

NOTE: The Rister family is taking donations for funeral expenses. If you would like to help, you can donate to the family’s GoFundMe. A special account has also been set with Southwest Bank. Funds can be transferred via Acc#:1108530 / Routing#: 112322508. You can also contact Crystal Rister at (432)638-3732 if you would like to donate in another way or donate via PayPal. The Rister family has given permission for this information to be made public.

The Ector County Sheriff’s arrested 71-year-old Linda Letcher. She’s been charged with Arson Causing Death and Capital Murder.

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