Saturday, Jan. 25, the day of Tim Smith’s funeral.
Note: short video clip links are highlighted in red
As cars and first responders’ vehicles filled the parking lot at Holy Infant Church, Mother Nature gave us hope that she’d show a little mercy, until 9:18 a.m. when it began to drizzle.
Around 9:35 a.m. the rain was so fine that it was almost unnoticeable as Firemen, police officers, EMTs and other first responders from countless cities and towns lined up along the driveway in front of the church with assorted honor guards, and waited.
Inside Holy Infant Church, mourners sat quietly and listened. Then the sound of the police motorcycles leading the funeral procession could be heard as they motored up Racebrook Road and turned into the side street under the arch from the ladder trucks displaying a large American Flag. They proceeded through the rear parking lot followed by a police SUV, vehicles from the Fire Marshal’s office, the Muster Truck carrying Tim’s body, and all of the emergency vehicles in the procession. When the motorcycles reached the front of the church the last of the fire trucks in the procession were entering under the flag.
The distinctive sound of the bagpipes permeated the air as the pallbearers reached up to remove the casket from the truck, then in perfect unison, all three units began to play, the bass drums keeping time as they carried the casket into the church. Click HERE for video.
Someone from the fire service carried Tim’s turnout gear to the front of the church where it was carefully placed on display. Firefighters escorted Tim’s family members to the front pews and the mass of the Christian Burial began.
A friend read heartfelt tributes from Tim’s girlfriend, Terri and girls, followed by Deputy Fire Marshal Jamie Vincent’s thoughtfully crafted eulogy.
Jamie held his emotions together the best he could as he shared humorous snippets from their experiences over the years, both as friends and professionally. A little thing, like a description of how Tim would greet visitors to his office, by removing his glasses, leaning back in his chair, and so on, brought so many back to happier days.
We could only imagine how unbearably painful it was for Jamie to respond to the accident scene just six days prior, knowing that this was not just any victim, only to have Fire Chief Sean Rowland have all of the first responders line up to make way for him. Jamie thanked Rowland and everyone who was there for this thoughtful gesture.
A short time later, inside the church, came the heartbreaking final alarm, transmitted by the Orange Police Dispatcher. First a tone, then the message, captured at the end of Amy Williams’ video (her father, Art, an Orange firefighter, saved it on his radio).
“All units be advised that car 39, Fire Marshal Tim Smith has responded to his final alarm and is now off the air. Fire Marshal Smith, your service to the citizens of Orange, the Orange Fire Marshal’s office and your loving dedication to your family and friends will not be forgotten. God Speed Tim, we’ll take the watch from here.”
I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the church, but by then I was outside.
The air seemed a bit more chilly and the sky began to cry, still not a downpour, but it was definitely more uncomfortable. Prior to taking their places on the lawn, the bagpipers exited the building together and made sure everything would be perfect for the final farewell. Moments later first responders came out of the church and began to line up along the driveway. Traffic on Racebrook Road slowed down as it passed the church grounds.
Everyone snapped to attention and saluted, and the bagpipes began their sad song, when the pallbearers emerged from the shelter of the church and awning and slowly walked to the muster truck, some were stoic while others choked back tears before lifting the casket onto the truck. The men and women lining the driveway slowly lowered their arms but remained at attention. Click HERE for video. Strains of Amazing Grace permeated the air and it was time to say goodbye.
After the pallbearers settled into the vehicles, the first responders and bagpipe units snapped to attention again. The muster truck and its escorts slowly pulled away, leaving those who knew Tim behind with nothing but their memories and hearts filled with love.
“Every Life is noted and is cherished, and nothing loved is ever lost or perished.” — Madeleine L’Engle