Dayton community bids final farewell to fallen firefighter

The family of fallen firefighter Bobby Higginbotham was presented with the flag that draped his casket during the funeral and his firefighter helmet.

Wednesday, Aug. 30, was a somber day for the Dayton community and the firefighter brotherhood as they gathered to say goodbye to one of their own – Dayton Volunteer Firefighter Robert Mason “Bobby” Higginbotham, who lost his life after a tragic motorcycle crash on Friday, Aug. 25. He had served with Dayton VFD since 2019.

The funeral service was a tribute to his life and unwavering dedication to his family, friends and community. His brothers and sisters in fire service, most dressed in blue uniforms, filled nearly half of Pace-Stancil Funeral Home’s sanctuary in Dayton.

During the service, the final radio call was made for Higginbotham and weeping could be heard from his loved ones and friends as it went unanswered.

Aerial video courtesy of Haden Gutierrez

Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran spoke at the funeral about Higginbotham being a true and dedicated family man who was a true friend and willing to take on any task asked of him.

“Why do we get into fire service in the first place? It is dirty. It is dangerous. Some people think we are a little crazy and maybe we are a little bit,” Cochran said. “In Bobby’s case, this has been answered. He had a burning desire to serve, to provide a better quality of life for family and friends, and the Dayton community.”

Cochran spoke about what compels so many to get into fire service.

“We find ourselves doing some really strange things. We may leave a warm bed in freezing temperatures. We may go out in hurricane weather. We may leave a holiday meal and we may leave church services,” Cochran said. “For what? Why? What are we thinking? To save a property we do not own and to protect a life of one we have never met. This is what we do.”

The nobleness of fire service connects those who serve in a brotherhood and sisterhood, which Cochran described as the greatest bond known to mankind.

“It is with us as we serve and today it follows us to death. If not for the brother and sisterhood, how many of us would not be here today? Family, the brotherhood and sisterhood I speak of goes one step further. Today it transfers to you. We are here for you today,” he said. “We will be here next week, next year. The brotherhood and sisterhood will never desert you.”

Higginbotham leaves behind to cherish his memory his wife, Mazie Pafford-Higginbotham; parents, Wes and Anita Norsworthy; grandparents, Linda Andress, Tommie Andress and wife Janie; Ray Pafford and wife Rita, Augie Carlile, Debbie Strang and husband Andrew, Kurt Gassett and wife Patricia; children, Westen Higginbotham and Emma Higginbotham; brothers, Dustin Andress and companion Jennifer Pitts, Phillip Locklear, Brandon Higginbotham and wife Shelby; sisters Jessica Higginbotham, Brittany Higginbotham; mother-in-law and father-in-law, Albert and Alicia Valerio, Mike and Renee Pafford; brothers-in-law, Austin Pafford and wife Ari, Zachary Valerio; sisters-in-law, Madalyn Pafford, Isabella Valerio; along with numerous nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and other cherished family members and friends.

Among those attending his funeral were Dayton Mayor Martin Mudd and wife, Sarah, City Manager Kim Judge, Dayton Police Chief Derek Woods, Dayton Fire Chief Chad Glatfelter and a host of other firefighters from across Liberty County and the surrounding area.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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