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Family, fellow firefighters, public pay respects to fallen firefighter Bryant Gladney

Watch a replay of the service in the player.


First responders and members of the public paid their respects Tuesday at funeral services for a Boone County firefighter killed last week while on duty.

The service for Bryant Gladney, assistant chief of the Boone County Fire Protection District, took place at the Hearnes Center was was streamed online.

A procession down Providence Road and Business Loop 70 followed. The service included eulogies from Boone County Fire Protection District Chief Scott Olsen and Gladney's son Shaun, a firefighter who now works in McKinney, Texas.

A semi-truck hit Gladney's fire district vehicle while he was responding to a crash on Interstate 70 east of Columbia early Wednesday, killing him. Witnesses said the driver of the truck, Kevin Bunson, 64, of Kansas City, did not slow down before crashing into Gladney's SUV.

Procession route for Bryant Gladney

Eulogies were given Tuesday by Bryant's son Shaun and Fire Chief Scott Olsen.

Olsen talked a little bit about Gladney's true passion, "he was a gifted medic but his true passion was teaching and everybody in this room knows it."

Olsen added that through Gladney's many years as the EMS Education Division Manager and years of training young EMT's, his legacy is going to be carried on.

"Hundreds of EMT's and paramedics that he trained are now taking care of all the Mrs. Smith's in all the hometowns across Missouri," Olsen said.

Gov. Mike Parson ordered flags to be flown at half-staff statewide Tuesday to honor Gladney.

Gladney worked for the fire district for 25 years and worked in emergency response in Mid-Missouri for more than three decades.

Olsen and Shaun Gladney each said Bryant Gladney's true passion was teaching and helping others. He was the head of the district's emergency medical services operation. They said the humble firefighter and medic would never have asked for the recognition he received Tuesday.

"The only thing he couldn't seem to teach me is how to eat meat, which is funny because I'm a vegetarian," Shaun Gladney said during the eulogy. He said the Gladney family has seen the wide impact Bryant's life had over the past week.

"I promise you that everyone here today has been touched by his legacy, and I would bet everyone that's here today has learned something from him," Shaun Gladney said.

Shaun will also continue his father's legacy as a firefighter and described himself and his dad as the Hebrew word "eser" which means helper.

"He was always looking for a way to help others and everything that he did in his life from work to home was to help someone else. Everyday he modeled what it meant to be an eser, he taught me how to be a good firefighter, he quite literally taught my paramedic class, he taught me what it means to take care of Mrs. smith, he taught me how to play baseball and he was there at every single game," Shaun Gladney said.

Scores of vehicles lined up for the procession through the heart of Columbia that followed the funeral service. Fire and ambulance crews from around Mid-Missouri took part in the procession along with tow truck drivers, who frequently work with firefighters at crash scenes like the one where Gladney was killed. Electric line workers also joined the procession, which drew spectators a little after midday.

Bishop Farr, Fire District Chaplain, reminded Gladney's loved ones that they are not alone. "Don't walk it by yourself, this is not a burden you can carry alone, let the rest of us help carry the burden," Farr said.

Crowds gathered to watch the procession drive down Providence Road to Gladney's final resting place at Memorial Funeral Home.

Many of the onlookers did not know Gladney personally but came to pay respect for his contributions to the community.

"Even though you don't have to know a person by heart, you know that they gave their all and they gave their life to do what they came here to do," said Brandy Mullen, a former Boone County firefighter.

]Mullen told ABC 17 Gladney trained her daughter when she decided to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a firefighter as well.

I"t was very enlightening for her and a good way for her to learn and Bryant taught her a lot of good things and always had fun things to say about him," Mullen said.

Mullen was one of the first to gather in the cold, gloomy weather to watch the procession, but she said the weather did not deter her.

"I was having this feeling on the way here, like, I just got a warmth coming here, you know what I'm saying," Mullen said. "It's cold, but it's manageable. And I was watching the live broadcast and the sun came out when they started talking about departing and bringing him here, so even though it's gloomy, you know there's a brighter light at the end.

Article Topic Follows: Boone

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.


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