Jessica Padgett of Evansville, Indiana expected to be married to her volunteer firefighter groom, Kendall Murphy on September 29, 2018. He died in November 2017 when another firefighter who was allegedly drunk crashed into him on their way to respond to a crash scene in Daviess County.
To honor his memory, Padgett’s mother, Katrina Murphy, coordinated with the photographer at Loving Life Photography, who she had booked for the wedding date. Jessica put on her wedding dress and posed with Kendall’s firefighter uniform, helmet, boots, and with his photograph. She and her family kneeled beside his grave in heartbreaking pictures that immediately convey the anguish and pain the family share at losing Kendall so unexpectedly.
The photographs show a tightly-knit family overcoming their grief together and remembering a man who they clearly loved with all of their hearts. They experienced a range of emotions, crying and laughing together. The photographer, Mandi Knepp, hopes the photographs will help the family heal, as well as others facing similar tragedies.
The family has taken many steps to honor the life of the 27-year-old Kendall Murphy, including honoring him at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service on Sunday in Washington D.C.
Jessica worked to start a scholarship fund in his name called the “Viking Promise” Kendall Murphy Scholarship Fund at Barr-Reeve Community Schools. She also raised funds to help the Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department. In addition, the family helped coordinate a 5k and a 10k race to honor his memory called the 1st Annual Kendall Murphy 5K/10K Run/Walk.
The family started a social media campaign for his birthday on May 10, 2018, asking everyone to remember Kendall with a day of intentional acts of kindness called “Paint the town Red.” Friends and family wore red and pictures were shared with the hashtag: #servelikeMurph and #paintthetownred. The Montgomery Fire Station and St. Peter Catholic Church took part in the event, honoring the fallen firefighter by lighting up the church and fire station in glowing red lights.
Jessica said that she wanted to honor her fiancé by helping others.
“My goal at the very beginning of this was to make Kendall proud and to do the two most important things that he absolutely loved, the Barr-Reeve foundation and helping others just like his father and grandfather as a volunteer firefighter.”
Despite the tragic loss, she counts herself lucky to have been part of Kendall Murphy’s life.
“Not a single second goes by that this amazing man of mine doesn’t cross my mind. I was incredibly lucky to call him my fiance. I can never love someone as much as I do for this man. You’ll FOREVER be in my heart,” wrote Jessica Padgett.
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Featured image: Screenshot via Facebook/Loving Life Photography