A final goodbye
Commissioner Bill Pratt laid to rest on Thursday
Lawrence County paid its final respects to Commission President Bill Pratt Thursday afternoon, as his funeral procession went past the courthouse, where he served for the better part of the past decade, before heading to the family farm for burial.
Fellow officeholders and residents crowded the front of the courthouse steps, as the hearse, accompanied by many law enforcement vehicles, ambulances and fire trucks, drove by.
Proctorville VFW Post 6878’s Honor Guard was also present with an American flag to pay respects.
Pratt’s public funeral service took place Wednesday at Hall Funeral Home, where some of his family and closest friends and colleagues spoke in remembrance of him.
Paul Pratt, the youngest of the four Pratt boys, was the first to speak at the service.
He said that although he and Bill have always been complete opposites, and had many disagreements and fights growing up, the two became very close and that he never doubted the things that Bill could do.
“Bill succeeded because he was determined to succeed from the beginning. He put a great deal of thought into every decision he made for Lawrence County. He was a relentless worker who tested failure so much that he simply wouldn’t accept it,” he said. “He wanted Lawrence County to be great, and his intentions were pure. He ran for commission because he knew he could make a difference, and he did.”
Chris Kline, Lawrence County chief deputy auditor and close family friend, also spoke at the service, mentioning their similar farming backgrounds as well as their professional working relationship.
“Bill touched the lives of so many. More than any of us may know or realize. Just from the smallest of things he would do or say. And then flash his smile. As an example, last Thursday, Bill, Freddie (Hayes Jr.) and DeAnna (Holliday) and I were working on the county’s 2019 budget in the commission chambers. My 15-year-old son, Josh, needed a ride home after school and came to the courthouse to go home with me. We were still working on the budget, so Josh came into the meeting to get my keys so he could get into my office and wait for me. When he came in, he spoke to all three commissioners. Bill asked him specifically how he was doing,” Kline said.
“Josh didn’t know Bill personally. I don’t think he had ever talked to him before. But Josh was impressed that Bill had asked him how he was doing, and smiled at him. Josh was upset about Bill’s passing. He looked at his mom and I and said ‘but I just talked to him yesterday’ when he found out about Bill’s death Friday evening. It only takes a kind word and a smile to affect someone.”
Allie Pratt, one of Bill’s daughters, remembers her dad fondly.
“My dad was my best friend. He taught me everything I know; sorry to all of my teachers,” she said jokingly. “He was always very easily spoken to everybody, and he wasn’t always sad.”
She added that she remembers and often dreams about him still being at home talking to everyone in the living room, smiling, making dad jokes and eating Starburst, his favorite candy.
Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens also spoke at the service, which was officiated by pastor Tom Ross, of Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in Chesapeake.