Valiant husband, loving father, leader, doer, firefighter who lived life with a passion — those were among the tributes paid to B.J. Carnes at his standing-room-only funeral Wednes-day at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church.
An enormous procession including dozens of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles escorted Carnes’ casket to the Bangs Cemetery, where he was laid to rest after a ceremony that included bagpipes, an honor guard and the last alarm.
Carnes, 38, was killed Saturday night when the plane he was piloting crashed in Coleman County. He had been a Brownwood firefighter since 2005 and had a license in counseling.
“There was no ho-hum about B.J.’s life,” the Rev. Doug Holtzclaw of Goldthwaite, one of two ministers who spoke, said of Carnes. “His motor seldom idled.
An estimated 1,000-plus mourners packed the church, many of them standing in the side aisles in the balcony. Carnes’ fellow firefighters and family members packed the front pews.
A photo of Carnes along with some of his firefighter’s bunker gear sat near his closed casket. The Rev. James Gibson said mourners had come “to celebrate B.J.’s life and celebrate our Lord and Savior.”
Several minutes into the service, Carnes’ widow, Jenny, and his 14-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, stood side-by-side at the front of the church and addressed mourners.
Jenny Carnes, her voice strong, told what her husband had meant to her. She said he had tried to please her and make her happy, and had provided her with everything she needed. She also spoke of his passion for working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“He was, and still is, the love of my life,” she said.
Her husband, she said was passionate about the fire department. “You all are B.J.’s brothers,” she told his fellow firefighters.
She said he had been a loving father to Mackenzie, who was 17 months old when she and B.J. first met.
“Her daddy is with God, smiling down on her accomplishments,” Jenny Carnes said.
Mackenzie Carnes, struggling to talk, addressed her father. She said life is “never going to be the same without you because you were my best friend. … I will always be your little doodle.”
The Rev. Doug Holtzclaw of Goldthwaite said storms come into people’s lives — sometimes as the result of their own choices, but other times from circumstances they have no control over. Holtzclaw told of the biblical account of Jesus calming a storm on the Sea of Galilee as he and his frightened disciples traveled in a boat.
“I can tell you many good things about B.J.,” Holtzclaw said. “I want you to know and understand that Jesus was in B.J.’s boat. Jesus was in B.J.’s life. … the Lord Jesus was in not only his boat, but his cockpit as well.”
He described Carnes as “a man’s man, son, brother, husband, father” with a passion for “family, firefighting, piloting, patriotism, cooking, building.”
As the service concluded, firefighters took Carnes’ casket from the church and placed it onto the back of the fire department’s aerial ladder truck.
Brownwood fire trucks, draped with black sashes, drove near the front of the lengthy procession. Citizens lined the streets as the procession moved slowly down Coggin Avenue, turned left on Austin, turned onto Commerce headed for Bangs. At the cemetery, several hundred people crowded around a funeral tent and an honor guard stood at attention.
Carnes was born in Brownwood, grew up in Bangs and graduated from Brookesmith High School. As a firefighter, he was credited with participating in numerous behind-the-scenes activities including the meet-and-confer process.