Man killed in accident was a ‘knight’ says sister

Published 4:57 pm Friday, January 9, 2009

The Red Level man who died in an industrial accident at Chapman Forest Products earlier this week was a quiet spoken individual who loved the outdoors and left behind a legacy of caring, said family members.

Billy Halford, 59, was struck by a moving piece of machinery at Chapman Forest Products on Monday and died instantly.

“He was my knight in shining armor,” said sister Debra Halford of McKenzie. “He knew what I needed before I even knew. We just don’t know what we’re going to do without him. He dedicated his life to helping his family.”

Email newsletter signup

The oldest brother in a family of eight children in McKenzie, Billy Halford was thrust into adulthood early in life. Debra Halford said her brother went to work at the age of 16 to help the family make ends meet.

“We were an extremely poor family,” she recalled. “He came home and helped support the family.”

And he had a special place in his heart for his five sisters, said Debra Halford.

“I remember this one time he built my mother a wooden well,” she said. “Well, he knew if he built one for her he was going to have to build one for us all, so all the sisters got a well.”

Debra’s son, Jason Halford, remembered his uncle as a gentle man, who loved animals, was an enthusiastic deer hunter, and constantly tended his garden.

Oftentimes, said Jason Halford, his uncle would show up unlooked for at his mother’s home with a basket of turnips.

“I don’t think he had one enemy,” said Jason Halford. “He never had harsh words for anyone, but when he said something, he meant what he said.”

Billy Halford had worked as a mechanic at Chapman Forest Products – starting when it was Union Camp – since 1968, said Jason Halford.

His first reaction when hearing of his uncle’s death was one of disbelief, he said.

County Coroner Wayne Garlock pronounced Billy Halford dead at the scene of the accident. Officials with OSHA were on-site in Chapman Tuesday and are conducting the investigation.

Visitation and funeral services were at Johnson Funeral Home in Georgiana. His body was interred in Antioch Methodist Cemetery on Friday.

Billy Halford’s casket was closed.

Debra Halford said her brother’s immediate family – wife, Mary Halford, and three children – are still trying to cope with the loss of both husband and father.

“I think what upsets us the most is we’re not going to see him,” said Debra Halford about the ceremony.

She said she wonders who is going to look after her now.

“His CB handle was ‘Star,’ she said. “And that’s what he was – a Star.”

Billy Halford is survived by his wife, Mary Halford of Red Level; daughters, Sandy Self of Andalusia, Donna Halford and Kaitlyn Halford, both of Red Level; son, Steve Halford of Enterprise; sisters, Rachel Wright of Monroeville, Lillie Collens of Andalusia, and Debra Halford of McKenzie; brothers, Lavon Halford, Donald Halford, Jake Halford and Jack Halford, all of McKenzie; and two grandchildren, Corey Self and Jade Self, both of Andalusia.