Hundreds Gather to Say Goodbye to Trumann Firefighter Lost in Flood

SEPTEMBER 28, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:30 P.M. CDT

TRUMANN, AR -- The town of Trumann was nowhere near last weekend's floods, but still, the community lost a close friend. 55 year old Jackie Richardson died in the rushing waters. Over 300 people came to say their goodbyes; servicemen, police officers, firefighters, rescue workers, friends and family.

"He was a guy to know. He was I guess kind of like the man on campus. Anywhere Jack was, everyone was laughing," says Jeff LaFollette, a longtime friend of Richardson.

Jackie Richardson was a lifetime resident of Trumann. A U.S. Army Veteran, fire and rescue volunteer, police officer, city council member and the list goes on. Richardson was always involved in the community, but furthermore, he was a man who truly understood the value of family.

"Jack was a family man. He loved his children and his grandkids. His children and his grandkids were his life," says LaFollette.

Richardson's funeral service seemed to bring everyone to tears remembering good times that are now only memories.

"I've got real good friends, but Jackie was probably my best. Their ain't no probably, he was my best and I'm going to miss him bad," says LaFollette.

LaFollette recalled what he felt when he first heard the news of his friend's death.

"I knew it was just a lie that Jack wasn't gone. Jack was a swimmer. I knew what he was doing, helping other people. Jack was out to help anybody," says LaFollette.

And those who knew him best say that was something he did everyday, putting others before himself.

"He was my brother, my best friend and I'm going to miss him immensely. A part of me I think has died with him," adds LaFollette.