A Hero’s Farewell
A crowd Saturday at Claybar’s Funeral Home in Orange filled the chapel and the lobby, and spread outside. The service for firefighter Kenny Milton Harris was filled to overflowing as fire and rescue members, law enforcement officers, and mourners spilled out both doors and into the parking lot.
Harris, 29, from Orangefield, lost his life Wednesday, Jan. 30, when the tow truck he was driving was hit by an 18-wheeler truck rig. Authorities said Harris swerved to miss a vehicle sitting at the light at the intersection at Osborne and Texas Avenue in Bridge City. That action put him in the direct path of an 18-wheeler. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Though he lost his life, his actions saved a family with small children in the vehicle.
“He was a hero until his very last breath,” said Pinehurst Volunteer Fire Chief Grady Gray. “His actions are a testament to the type of person he was.”
Harris not only worked for Gilbeaux’s Towing, but was also the assistant chief of the West Orange Volunteer Fire Department. He came from a firefighting family. Harris joined the fire department at the age of 14 as a junior firefighter because he wanted to be like his four brothers. Working his way up, he had attained the title of Assistant Chief in West Orange.
Representatives from area first responders and law enforcement came to pay tribute and honor Harris with a full firefighter’s funeral. All of Orange County agencies and some of the other Southeast Texas counties were represented. They came from the west as far as LaBelle and as far east as Vinton.
It was obvious that Assistant Chief Harris was well respected and loved. Firefighters, police officers, first responders and community members were six and seven deep as they waited in lines for Harris’ body to pass by before being loaded onto the West Orange Fire Engine that was draped in black. After loading the casket onto the fire engine that would take him for his last ride, several of his “brothers” broke down and sobbed.
The funeral procession was several miles long. Emergency vehicles, patrol cars and tow trucks were lined up for blocks two and three deep waiting to escort Harris to his final resting place at Forest Lawn Cemetery in West Orange.
He leaves behind his wife, Jennifer Harris, and two children, Jaycelyn Paige Harris and Brennen Milton Harris.
A fund has been set up at MCT Credit Union to help the family. Donations may be made at any branch. The account number is 94014.