With a light drizzle and the sound of bagpipes in the air, Lt. Randy Parker was laid to rest at Glen Haven Memorial Gardens on Monday.
Parker’s family was joined by hundreds of friends and firefighters from across the state as they gathered one last time in honor of Parker, who died fighting a house fire Wednesday.
His brother-in-law, Kevin Purcell, addressed the crowd and talked about how the comfort of friends and family in a time of crisis helps the healing process.
“Words are not always important, but your presence in times like this is most important,” he said.
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Purcell, a pastor, also spoke from Romans 8 about how God uses all things to work for the good of believers. He said Parker -- who endured the death of his father, injuries from an accident and the death of his first wife -- often came to him to discuss matters of faith.
“Beautiful people don’t just happen,” Purcell said. “Randy was a beautiful person.”
The procession arrived at the cemetery after a trip down Houston Road, which included passing under crossed ladders from firetrucks stationed on either side of the intersection with Sardis Church Road.
In one yard along the route, there were signs placed to honor Parker. In another, a young boy waited with a flag in hand for the procession to pass.
Billy Bell, general manager of Glen Haven, said he was glad to see such gestures.
“I think everybody respects what these fellas do,” Bell said. “I think they respect that they put their lives on the line to save other people.”
Macon-Bibb County fire Lt. Chuck Tidwell was among the small crowd that arrived at the grave site ahead of the procession. He was impressed by the outpouring of respect and goodwill following Parker’s death.
“It just shows us how the community comes together in times of need and puts all differences aside,” he said. “I just wish it was like that all the time.”
Tidwell said the last few days since Parker’s death have hit on a range of emotions as the county’s firefighters processed their loss.
“It’s been a little bit of laughter, some tears, sharing of good times -- because it was always a good time with Randy,” he said.
To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.