2008-02-20 / Front Page

Former Chief Petty laid to rest

'He really had a big heart'
By TIM GULLA Ledger Staff Writer tim@gaffneyledger.com

(Above) Gaffney firefighters stand at attention as the fire engine carrying the body of former Gaffney Fire Chief Charles Anthony Petty passes by. (Bottom) Petty's flag-draped coffin is prepared for its journey to Mt. Ararat Baptist Church Cemetery. (Above) Gaffney firefighters stand at attention as the fire engine carrying the body of former Gaffney Fire Chief Charles Anthony Petty passes by. (Bottom) Petty's flag-draped coffin is prepared for its journey to Mt. Ararat Baptist Church Cemetery. Charles Petty always like to be in command, even when it came to cooking for his church's men's group.

The rule, recalled Dr. Donnie Padgett, former pastor of Bethany Baptist Church where Petty was once a member, was that Petty would do the cooking and the other men had to clean up afterwards. The end result was a given when it came to the "jack-of-all-trades" Padgett had come to know well since he moved to Gaffney.

"There was a mess everywhere," Padgett recalled fondly. "But it was worth it because the cooking was marvelous."

To Padgett, who was Petty's pastor for about eight years, stories like those proved a major point about life. "Death can take our loved ones and friends," he said, "but it can never take our memories."

Petty, who served Gaffney for 42 years as fire chief and 48 years overall as a firefighter, was remembered Tuesday for his life of service to his country, to Gaffney and surrounding communities, and for his faith.

Petty, 80, died Saturday. Funeral services were held at the Blakely Funeral Home Chapel on Tuesday afternoon. Following the services, Petty's flag-draped coffin was carried on the back of a Gaffney Fire Department truck to Mt. Ararat Baptist Church Cemetery.

Gaffney police blocked major intersections all along Highway 11 as the funeral procession proceeded into downtown and passed Gaffney Fire Department headquarters, where the city's firefighters stood at attention and said their goodbyes to a comrade.

"We're grateful for Charles Petty and his life, what he stood for, how he loved his community and his country," said Rev. Tommy Wright, pastor of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church.

Petty was a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

"Charles was a unique man," Padgett said.

While he loved his job, Padgett said being a firefighter stressed Petty at times, especially when firefighters couldn't get somewhere fast enough, or when people were hurt.

"The truth of the matter was he really had a big heart," Padgett said.

Petty was the second former Gaffney Fire Chief to be laid to rest in recent weeks. Former Chief Donald Glen Parris, 71, died Jan. 27.

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