Trooper Timothy Pratt’s daughter Sarah, speaking Monday at his funeral, found it difficult to choose stories to relay about her father’s heroism.
There were too many to pick just one, she told mourners at father’s funeral Mass at St. Michael the Archangel Church on Saratoga Avenue.
“Every day of my father’s entire life,” Sarah Pratt said, “he was the hero of heroes.”
Friends, family and fellow law enforcement officers packed the church to remember the man who, for decades, served the South Glens Falls community, the region and country, both in the Air Force and in the New York State police.
Pratt, 55, of South Glens Falls, died Wednesday morning from injuries suffered in a crash. He had stopped to help a semitrailer driver and was crossing a lane of Ballard Road on foot in front of the trooper barracks in Wilton when a passing SUV struck him.
[South Glens Falls mourns state trooper's loss]
Monday morning’s service included everything fitting a trooper killed in the line of duty, including hundreds of Pratt’s fellow troopers and hundreds more from other agencies hailing from around the state and the country, as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, all honoring the life of Pratt.
The hearse carrying the fallen trooper’s flag-draped casket drove slowly past the hundreds of fellow law enforcement, all standing at attention.
The solemn scene was preceded by a line of dozens of motorcycle officers, from Pratt’s state police and other departments around the state and beyond.
The Rev. Guy A. Childs presided over Monday’s service, recounting some of the many family and professional stories about the “remarkable, amazing and great” Pratt, including one of him simply sitting down to watch “Star Trek” with his kids.
“If there is anything that we might take away from all this — the funeral service, the candlelight memorial, the wake yesterday — I hope that it is what a very special person Tim is, and how he raised the bar for all of us,” Childs said.
Childs invited those who knew Pratt to remember him and tell the stories about Pratt that each has. He asked that they share them at the barracks, at home, seeing a motorcycle go by or simply going down the Northway that Pratt so frequently patrolled.
Childs recounted how, sitting down with Pratt’s family to plan the Mass, they all heard a quiet siren off in the distance.
[Candlelight vigil recalls fallen trooper, great dad]
“Smile,” Childs said of all the ways to remember, “because that’s his way of letting us know that he’s still right there with us.”
After Pratt’s daughter, State Police Superintendent George Beach offered his remarks and remembrances of Pratt, recalling how Pratt worked with younger troopers and shared his knowledge with them.
Beach could be seen before the services personally thanking a few of the law enforcement officers who attended from elsewhere, including troopers from Maryland. Other officers came from California, Georgia and points in between.
Beach also recounted some of the many Trooper Pratt stories shared online, including the time he changed a woman’s tire and another where he drove a stranded family to safety.
“He was a combination of prevention and enforcement and, in every interaction, always kind and always courteous,” Beach said. “Tim dedicated his life to public service and to helping others.”
Pratt’s sons, Shane and James Pratt, offered readings at the Mass.
In her comments, daughter Sarah Pratt recalled her father’s hearty greetings of hugs and handshakes. She also recalled her father’s unique laugh, “a sound I will yearn to hear for the rest of my life.”
The daughter also shared her own experiences in the days since her father’s death. She said she hasn’t felt like herself.
“I feel like I’m on the outside of my body, and somebody else is controlling my actions,” she said, her voice wavering with emotion.
But during Saturday night’s vigil, while watching the Color Guard and the soldiers saluting and staring at a picture of her father, she understood why she felt that way.
“I was able to sit there with strength and hold back the tears,” she said. “That is not me. That’s my dad.”
Outside the church Monday, a line of uniformed New York State troopers stretched at least 70 long and at least six rows deep. Officers from other police agencies more than doubled that, making the total number standing at attention too many to count.
Dignitaries, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also attended.
Signs at several businesses in the village honored the hometown trooper, including one at Pat & Jerry’s Ice Cream across from the church, reading “RIP Trooper Pratt.” Another, at the Landmark Motor Inn, which Pratt had to have passed countless times in his life, read “Trooper Tim Pratt Thank You Rest in Peace.”
Across the street from the church, Donna McCane held a photo of Pratt backed by red, white and blue ribbons. McCane went to school with Pratt and he attended multiple family weddings, the photo coming from one of them.
She had hoped to attend the services. The church full, she remained. She called it an honor to be there for Pratt.
[Trooper 'died the way he lived - helping people']
“It’s a huge loss to the community. Huge. He was always there for everybody,” McCane said. “If you ever needed him, you could call Tim and he’d be there in seconds. Just an unbelievable guy.”
Pratt became a trooper in 1987 and had most recently been assigned to the traffic incident management unit at the Wilton station, state police said. He served his entire career with Troop G, the troop that serves much of the Capital Region, and he served more than 25 years on the unit covering the Northway.
Pratt lived in South Glens Falls his entire life, graduating in 1979 from the same high school where his calling hours took place Sunday. He soon joined the Air Force, staying through 1986. Soon after, he became a trooper.
Beach, in closing his remarks, referenced scripture where the Lord asks “whom shall I send?”
“Every day for the last 30 years, Tim Pratt’s answer was ‘Send me, Lord,’” Beach told mourners. “And, on Wednesday, Tim answered the final call home.
“Trooper Timothy P. Pratt. Shield 1253. End of Watch 26 October 2016. Thank you for your service to the people of New York. And thank you for a job well done.”
Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, [email protected] or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.