WEST (April 24, 2013)—Hundreds of people including 300 Dallas firefighters attend a funeral service Wednesday afternoon in West for Dallas Fire Department Capt. Kenneth “Luckey” Harris, Jr., 52, who died in the April 17 explosion at West Fertilizer Co.
Harris was off duty and was helping local firefighters at the time of the explosion, which killed at least 14, injured about 200 and damaged or destroyed scores of homes and buildings.
The Church of the Assumption in West was packed with mourners and hundreds more people were outside the church where speakers had been placed so the overflow crowd could hear the service.
Harris was a 31-year veteran of the Dallas Fire Department.
“He proudly wore this uniform and this badge, (and) we are honored to pay him tribute,” said Dallas Fire Chief Louie Bright, III.
Retired Dallas Fire Department Chaplain Denny Burris told mourners Harris will never be forgotten.
“We aren’t happy,” he said, “but we can be joyful for those who knew Luckey and his spirit.”
"He was willing to lay down his life for a friend,” he said.
“He had a calling, deeper than most people understand,” he said.
“He loved it, he lived it, he invested more into it than he got out of it, that's why he was so good,” he said.
Pastor John Rambeau of Waco's Highpoint Church, which Harris and his wife Holly attended, described Harris as “a devoted husband, father (and) firefighter." "
“He loved his boat and he loved his Keystone light,” Rambeau said, drawing laughter from the mourners.
“This is not a defeat, death is not an end...grief and tragedy is painful, but they won't have the final word...in this family, or in West,” Rambeau said.
After the service, the flag-draped casket was placed on a fire truck from the station Harris commanded for a procession, escorted by Patriot Guard riders, to Bold Springs Cemetery in West where he’ll be laid to rest.
Harris was born in Killeen, graduated from Crawford High School, attended McLennan Community College in Waco and graduated from the Dallas Fire Academy in 1982.
A funeral service was held Tuesday for the first of the victims of the explosion.
Mariano C. Saldivar, 57, wasn’t a first responder, but he also died in the blast.
He retired from the warehousing industry about five years ago and moved from California to West to be closer to his family.
About 150 mourners gathered as a burial Mass was celebrated Tuesday morning at the Church of the Assumption in West.
The Rev. Ed Karasek said during his eulogy that Saldivar was a devout Catholic and a family man.
Saldivar's wife is in Mexico and could not attend the service.
Saldivar will be laid to rest in Portland, Ore.