Hundreds gather to pay last respects –
Story and photo by Patricia Beech –
Family and friends said their final goodbyes on Saturday, Aug. 6 to Franklin Township volunteer firefighter Billy Purtee, who died in a car crash the previous weekend.
A procession of 75 cars escorted by four fire trucks from Franklin, Peebles, and Jefferson Townships traveled along St. Rt. 781 from Beech Fork Church Saturday to bring Purtee to his final resting place at the Cedar Fork Cemetery near Peebles.
At the intersection of SR 781 and Steam Furnace Road, firefighters stood at attention as the funeral procession passed beneath the ladder arch raised by the West Union and Mount Orab Fire Departments.
During the graveside service an American flag was presented to Purtee’s eight-year old son, Dylon.
Purtee was a volunteer firefighter for several years with Station 15 in Peebles before joining Station 20 in Franklin Township.
His fellow firefighters described him as a great friend who always had your back.
“He was a wonderful person,” said Franklin Township Firefighter Alan Clough who called Purtee a great firefighter. “He’d always put a smile on your face, he was just that kind of guy.
Paul Brown, of Station 18 in West Union, said, “In the early 2000’s we did a lot of runs with Peebles, and Billy would always come out for us, he was a good man and a great firefighter.”
Following the funeral, people gathered at the Union Hill Church Reception Hall to celebrate Purtee’s life.
In addition to his son, Purtee is survived by his parents Robert and Rita Purtee, a sister Julie Beth George, nephew Preston Knauff, paternal grandmother Jean Purtee, and beloved soul mate Jasmine Harper.