Honoring the life made by fallen Senior Fire Captain Jeff Bayless
The Anchorage Fire Department honored one their own Friday. It was a little over three years ago when Senior Fire Captain Jeff Bayless passed away in the line of duty.
Family and friends say Bayless was not only a hero in life but especially when it comes to how he's helped others soon after his death.
Those who knew him best also describe him as a humble man who didn't crave any attention for himself. Friday night, some of the firefighters he trained and his two sisters came out to honor the Senior Fire Captain who died unexpectedly back in March 2014 doing the work he loved.
Bayless' sister, Cynthia Starnes, said, "It's a celebration of his life, but I could just hear him going, 'no, no,' because he wasn't into the extravagant. He was just quiet."
After his death, Bayless became a hero to many people. Starnes says as an organ donor, 17 different people were given a second chance at life.
"He's living through those people so [I] know that is a comforting feeling."
Due to his generous donation, Bayless was chosen by the Cryolife Organization, a company that helps recover donated cardiovascular organs and tissues for transplantation. Cryolife also sponsors the Donate Life float in the 2018 Rose Parade, which is held annually on New Year's Day.
Cryolife Director of Donor Services, Rhonda Horstman, says, Bayless was chosen to have his floragraph added to the float joining 43 other organ donors who have since passed on.
"Jeff's story just really stood out because he was a hero not only in life but also in death, and we just chose-- he was the perfect one for us to honor this year."
Cynthia Starnes added, "It's a huge deal to be recognized. When you think about the whole world is gonna see it."
Besides family and friends, the Senior Fire Captain left behind a rich legacy. Starnes praised the brave men and women who make up the Anchorage Fire Department.
"They talked about the camaraderie and the fire department life. These guys are together 24 hours a day. They get close, and it's an amazing experience to watch them together," said Starnes.
Bayless may have been quiet, but he certainly was not selfish.
After Christmas, Starnes and other members of her family will travel to California to help decorate the Donate Life float. They will also be in the grandstand to watch the entire parade on New Year's Day.
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