HARRISBURG (WSIL) — Family, friends, and firefighters are remembering a man who dedicated the last 20 years of his life to assisting the Harrisburg Fire Department with whatever it needed.
"I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much we gave him, but it was all worthwhile because it made him happy when he walked out that door," said Harrisburg Fire Chief John Gunning.
Gaylon Smith died of cancer Saturday at age 76. Services were held Wednesday at Reed Funeral Chapel in Harrisburg where Smith’s body lay in an open casket next to his firefighter’s uniform that had a badge with Smith’s nickname: ‘The Sheriff’.
"You will never be forgotten," said Smith’s sister, Lynda Upchurch. "You’ll always be in my heart and you’ll always be ‘The Sheriff’."
Gunning says Gaylon’s work earned him several badges, gear and most importantly the respect of the city’s firefighters.
"If Gaylon came in while we were out on a call, he did everything he could do to stay there until we were back," said firefighter Tristan Monroe. "He would be out there helping us wipe down truck, pull down hose, anything he could do to help, he was helping."
As tribute, the firetruck Smith maintained for several years was used to lead his funeral procession through the city before heading to Smith’s final resting place in Hardin County.
"I know it’s a time of sorrow but we want to make sure they know and we knew as a department that we were there for him all the way up to his final ride," Gunning said.
Smith is buried at Dixon Cemetery in Elizabethtown.