Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The memorial for Jeff Smith was Sunday, and began with a procession through the length of town. As I noted earlier on this blog, he was a member of the Willits/Little Lake Fire Department for 31 years, and was Chief for 22 of those years. An antique "steamer" pump wagon, provided by the California State Firefighters Association, led the way, followed by a stream of the department's trucks and personnel. Bringing up the rear was a pack of Smith's Harley-Davidson riding buddies. For more photos of the procession, click through here to my Overflow blog.
I like the quote in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat obituary, where a long-time colleague pointed out that Smith was "the closest thing to a celebrity we had in Willits." When I positioned myself to catch the action near the Willits Arch, I had no idea how moved I would be by the sight of the black cross, pulled by three draft horses. Then, even more, by the long line of silent, flashing fire trucks, knowing how respected he was by so many who knew him so long.
There were no California Highway Patrol officers anywhere to be seen. I believe they were busy looking the other way during this unconventional use of Highway 101. City police officers handled traffic control.
This will be a short series. More tomorrow.