Funeral services were held Wednesday for the Green County Oklahoma Department of Transportation worker and retired volunteer firefighter, who was killed on the job.
Jerald Warden died Thursday, June 11 while working along highway 412. Troopers said a bungee cord broke on the truck, causing a stop sign to fall from the truck and hit Warden in the neck.
Fire trucks lined the streets as firefighters, ODOT workers, friends, family and even strangers made their way into Pawnee's First Baptist church to say their final farewell to Jerald Warden.
“It's amazing to me that a little boy from a little town was so honored,” Warden's sister Janell Garrett said.
Anyone who knew him says Warden was quiet, never had much to say, but his sister says her little brother could be pretty funny when he wanted.
“You could really get him going. He had a wonderful laugh and a wonderful sense of humor, and he was fun to be around,” Garrett said.
And he was as dependable as they come, Maramec current chief, Allen Fulton, said.
“Whenever that fire alarm, our pagers went off or the phone rang, you could always depend on Jerald being there. When I'd round the corner, Jerald was out there and had a truck out there and he was the first one in there with truck ready to go,” Fulton said.
Warden spent 21 years as a Maramec Volunteer Firefighter and about five of those he served as chief.
He was a quiet leader who did what needed to be done and others followed suit.
Fulton says Warden lived by an old firefighter saying, ‘First in, last out.'
“Jerald was always the first in and he stayed there until the job was done,” Fulton said.
When he wasn't fighting fires, Warden worked for ODOT. He'd been with the department for almost ten years when he was killed while working along Highway 412.
Because of his service, both to the state and to the small towns in Pawnee County, the Governor's office issued an executive order to fly the American and state flags at half-staff.
“I'm just amazed, I'm so proud of him and I'm gonna thank the governor for doing that in honor of him,” his sister said.
More than 500 people lined up outside the church to honor Warden.
His wife of only a year walked out of the funeral carrying an American flag, and one of his son's - dressed in an Army uniform - watched as his father's casket was placed on the back of a fire truck.
“I was on the tailboard of that truck with Jerald, and one point when we turned around there was three miles of procession coming behind us, and there was another half mile in front of us,” Fulton said.
It was a final ride for a man who touched so many lives by the way he lived his.
“Not only because he was a firefighter, but for all of the things he has done for his community, his family and people around him everywhere,” Fulton said.
“I'm so, so proud of him...things I didn't even know about him didn't know how wonderful he was. My little brother was just a rock star,” his sister said smiling.
The Tulsa Fire Department Honor Guard finished out the services by ringing a bell three times, saying Warden completed his duties, a job well done and he has now gone home.