- [S80] Rawlings Funeral Home, (http://www.rawlingsfuneralhome.com/).
- [S86] McCammon-Ammons-Click Funeral Home, (http://www.mccammonammonsclick.com/), 31 Dec 2011.
Michael Lynn Rawlings
January 01, 1946 - December 31, 2011
Resided In: Sevierville TN USA
Visitation: January 02, 2012
Service: January 03, 2012
Cemetery: Middle Creek Cemetery
Michael L. Rawlings, age 65 of Sevierville passed away Saturday December 31, 2011 at his home.
He is survived by his wife Cindy (Keeble) Rawlings, son and daughter in law, Lynn and Patty Jo, son Christopher, grandchildren, Garrett and Rylie Jo Rawlings all of Sevierville, and Cade Price of Maryville. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Porter Rawlings and Brother and sister in law, Mark W. and Helen Rawlings also all of Sevierville, niece and husband, Hailey and Mackenzie Collier of Pigeon Forge, as well as 2 great nephews and a sister in law and brother in law, Carole and Robert Hubble of Church Hill.
Michael has served as The City of Sevierville Fire Chief since 1994. Chief Rawlings had served his community for over 38 years through the fire service. He also was a veteran of the United States Marine Corp.
The funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church Sevierville with Rev. Andrew L. Henry and Rev. Jerry Hyder officiating. The interment will follow at Middle Creek Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 5:00 until 8:00 Monday at First Baptist Church Sevierville.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be made to the Sevier County Volunteer Fire Department, Attention Matt Henderson, 122 Prince St., Sevierville TN 37862
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 31 Dec 2011.
Update: Services set for Sevierville Fire Chief Mike Rawlings
by STAN VOIT, Editor
SEVIERVILLE — Fire Chief Mike Rawlings has lost his battle with cancer.
The veteran of 20 years as chief of the Sevierville Fire Department and 40 years in the department died Saturday at home, surrounded by family.
Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m Monday at First Baptist Church of Sevierville. The funeral will be at 2 p.m Tuesday at the church.
Rawlings was diagnosed in August with a brain tumor, and doctors later found the cancer had spread to his liver. He’d been receiving treatment since then.
"This is a tremendous personal loss," Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley said. "Mike and I go back a long way. We got into the volunteer fire department some 40 years ago, one month apart, and he's been a personal friend and a great representative of the city. We'll miss him as chief and I'll miss him as a friend."
Former fire chief Jim Atchley recommended Rawlings to replace him when Atchley retired.
"We worked side by side in most places, and whatever the situation, he was at my elbow. That should tell you what kind of person he was," Jim Atchley said.
Rawlings died around 11 a.m. Saturday, city spokesman Bob Stahlke said.
"One thing I always appreciated about Chief Rawlings was his willingness to work with everybody," Stahlke said. "He was very much a team player and always had the city's best interest at heart. That was evident from the first time you met him."
Friends and colleagues held a benefit spaghetti lunch for Rawlings a few weeks ago. Before the event his son, Lynn, a fire captain, noted how much his father and the family appreciated the support from the community during his illness.
“His entire life has been helping people, and I always knew people loved and respected him, but I never appreciated and understood it until (now),” Lynn Rawlings said at the time.
Veteran city Alderman Claude Ownby knew Rawlings his entire life.
"He'll be greatly missed," Ownby said, "because Mike Rawlings was a fine fellow. I consider Mike a close friend. It's a sad day for Sevierville. We lost a great person, in my opinion."
Funeral information will be announced later.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 4 Jan 2012.
A salute to Chief 1501: Community mourns loss of Sevierville Fire Chief Mike Rawlings
by DEREK HODGES
Chief Michael Rawlings wife Cindy, left, son Lynn, and mother Jeanne react as they listen to the final roll call over the radio.
The casket is brought out to be placed onto a Sevierville fire truck for the procession to the cemetery.
The procession passes under an American flag held up by two ladder trucks on Veteran s Boulevard.
As a cold breeze rounded the top of the hill at Middle Creek Cemetery Tuesday afternoon, chasing tufts of white through an azure blue sky and whipping up flags carried by an honor guard, Sevierville Fire Chief Mike Rawlings' granddaughter dropped a single red rose on his casket.
It was a heart-wrenching end to an already emotional ceremony as a grateful community said goodbye to a man who had served and protected it for nearly four decades. Rawlings was remembered as a man who lived strong, loved deep and exemplified faithfulness to a gathering of hundreds, including vast columns of emergency workers in dress uniforms.
The service started with a slideshow of pictures recent and old reflected onto a screen at the front of the First Baptist Church sanctuary. There were ones of Rawlings smiling with family at Thanksgivings past and holding the hand of a grandchild as he lay in a hospital bed after a brain tumor claimed his health. One showed him new to the department wielding a fire hose, while in yet another he was beaming as he drove an antique fire truck carrying a freight of his son and daughter-in-law at their wedding.
There was a homily and hymns were sung, but things came to a halt as Rawlings' son Lynn Rawlings came to the pulpit amid complete silence. He recounted the health struggles his father — and, through caregiving, his family — had dealt with over the past few months since he was diagnosed with cancer. He told how his father was found unresponsive and taken to the hospital Nov. 20, then released on Dec. 2 with a bleak prognosis. Though they would soon find out the cancer was gone, an infection that sprang up during the treatment would eventually claim his life.
As the family circled around, struggling to find its footing as they faced the impending loss, Lynn Rawlings said they were amazed by something his 8-year-old daughter Rylie Jo wrote. On cue, the young girl walked up to the stage and began reading a tribute to her grandfather that repeated a determination that he would beat the disease, though showed a belief that any outcome could be victory for this man she admired.
"He was born a champion," she read as countless people in the congregation sniffed and dabbed at moist eyes. "Live strong, Mike Rawlings. Tomorrow will be a better day, no matter what happens."
"That is Mike Rawlings, coming out in his 8-year-old granddaughter," Lynn Rawlings said.
Though the loss is a tough one for the department, Lynn Rawlings believes his father's legacy will be forming a crew that can excel even without him.
"He trained us to perform without him," he said. "That's what we've done. That's what we'll continue to do."
It had, by fortune, been quite a while since Sevierville had to go through the dour process of bidding farewell to a public servant, though Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have lost men in such positions in recent years. However, Rawlings' passing was the first time since the death of Sheriff Bruce Montgomery that the top post in a local department was vacated by death.
Despite the long absence, the city was long from forgetting how to properly pay tribute to a man who not only dedicated his life to it, but also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
The funeral procession left First Baptist Church just after 3 p.m., with what seemed like an interminable line of cars filled with mourners followed by an equally-long stretch of emergency vehicles with their lights flashing. State troopers led the way, while cars and trucks from what seemed every law enforcement and safety agency in the region followed the procession.
At every traffic light, police officers, EMTs and firefighters stood with their hands over their hearts and heads bowed. Along the way, there were rather frequent clumps of people who had come out of offices and cars along the route to pay their respects as traffic came to a halt. They mirrored the folks in uniform as they stood reverently, with one little boy propped on his father's shoulders saluting the entire parade.
Down the road from that pair was a larger one, hulking fire engines parked on opposite sides of Veterans Boulevard with ladders reaching toward the heavens. Strung between them, waving over the solemn file was an American flag bigger than the trucks.
In such ceremonies, the most emotional pageantry is typically reserved for the cemetery. Rawlings' flag-draped casket arrived riding atop the back of Sevierville Engine 16 and was unloaded by the men he served with as the rest of their number flanked the pathway at attention. Prayers were said, "Taps" was played and a 21-gun salute was given by an honor guard. The flag was removed from the casket, folded and handed to Rawlings' widow, Cindy Rawlings.
The striking of a glinting silver bell cut the crisp, sub-freezing afternoon as a tribute to the late chief before an emergency dispatcher came over the radios of members of the fire, rescue and police companies present.
"Central to Chief 1501," he called out three times, using the tag given to Rawlings. After receiving no response, he continued. "It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Sevierville Fire Chief Michael L. Rawlings, who served his community and the Sevierville Fire Department honorably for almost 38 years. Roll call has been taken and Chief Rawlings has failed to answer. The bell has been struck for his last alarm. Chief Rawlings is now on the scene at his final resting place. May the sun shine upon his path, may the wind always be at his back and may the Lord hold him in the palm of his hand until we meet again."
As the ceremony came to a close, members of the Sevierville Fire Department, including Lynn Rawlings, took up shovels and slowly began the work of covering the casket with the heavy red dirt dug out of Rawlings' grave. Lynn Rawlings stepped out of the line to find his wife and children. When he returned with them, Rylie Jo dropped her flower into her grandfather's final resting place and her brother Garrett added one last shovel-full as a cap to the emotional afternoon.
"We've lost a great one here," Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson said. "For a man to have served his community for almost 38 years like Mike did, that takes a real servant's spirit. He was truly a hero and a man we all looked up to and everyone in this community looked up to."
Though they were equals when it came to the rank on their chests, Watson said he readily deferred to Rawlings who had the upper hand in experience.
"He always gave me good guidance because he had those years behind him and he was very smart," Watson said. "He always knew the right way to handle tough situations."
That's an experience Assistant County Mayor Greg Patterson, who formerly served as fire chief in Gatlinburg, shared.
"Whenever we had a question, Mike was always our first call," he said. "It was amazing, too, that he always had the right answer."
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 17 Feb 2012.
Legislative resolution honors work, legacy of Mike Rawlings
by RACHEL OSBORN
On hand for the Friday morning ceremony were, from left, Mike s parents L.P. and Jeanne Rawlings; Sen. Doug Overbey; Rawlings wife Cindy; son Christopher; daughter-in-law Patty Jo; son Lynn; State Rep. Richard Montgomery; Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley; and, in front, Mike s grandchildren Rylie Jo and Garrett. Photo by Rachel Osborn
SEVIERVILLE — For members of his family, Friday morning was another reminder of just how many people treasured Sevierville Fire Chief Mike Rawlings' dedication to service, leadership skills and, most importantly, his friendship.
Following an emotional service that highlighted the legacy rawlings leaves behind, State Rep. Richard Montgomery and Sen. Doug Overbey presented his family with a legislative resolution honoring his memory and years of community service.
"In Nashville, we pass resolutions honoring families who mean so much to the community," Montgomery, R-Sevierville, said. "The Rawlings family is a cornerstone of this community. It's an honor for us to be able to do that.
"This is about the family and making sure they know people all across the state care about firemen. (Mike) is loved and missed by people all (over), not just in Sevier County," Montgomery said.
The Prince Street station overflowed with family, friends and community members who sniffled and dabbed at their eyes as Overbey read from the document.
"One of the opportunities we have as members of the general assembly is to honor members of the community," the Maryville Republican told the crowd. "It's always a great privilege to honor members of emergency services. We value firefighters and the risks they take every day.
"(Fire Marshal) Tommy White visited with us (one of the last times we were) in Sevierville. We thought a resolution would be an appropriate thing to do. We worked together on this. We wanted to honor (Mike's) memory and his service to the community. (The resolution) will be there forever in the records."
The resolution says how Rawlings was "dearly loved by all who knew him" and how he "leaves behind an indelible legacy of integrity" and "impeccable character."
"The general assembly should pause to remember the bountiful life of this exceptional public servant and human being," Overbey read from the document, that was adopted Jan. 25. "We express our sympathy and offer our condolences to the family of Mr. Rawlings.
"On behalf of a grateful state and (my colleagues), I want to present it," Overbey said, before handing over the resolution to Mike's wife Cindy.
Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley was visibly shaken by the gesture and the large turnout of Rawlings supporters.
"I want to thank everyone for being here today," he said. "It shows what Mike meant to this community.
"Mike and I served side by side in this department of volunteers. I could stand up here and tell you story after story. Mike is missed and will (continue) to be missed. I say this from experience—the greater the pain, the greater the love. When you think of the pain (of losing Mike), think of the love."
Alderman Claude Ownby, too, misses one of his closest friends.
"We'll have another fire chief, but not another Mike Rawlings," he said. "I lost a friend and the city of Sevierville lost an asset."
Though it's still difficult to deal with the loss, Cindy Rawlings said she finds strength in the fact that everyone remembers her husband so fondly.
"It's hard in a way, but it would be terrible if people didn't talk about him and he was forgotten," she said. "As you can see, I'm still quite emotional.
"This is quite an honor for the whole family. Mike would be very humbled by it. He was more behind the scenes, than front and center. Actually, I'm learning more about (that and) him since he died."
The appreciation of community support is a sentiment son Lynn Rawlings echoed.
"It's very surreal," he said. "Ever since he got sick in August, it's been a constant display of how much people appreciate him. It's been overwhelming."
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 6 Aug 2013.
Sevierville bridge dedicated to late fire chief Mike Rawlings
Local officials joined the wife of former Sevierville Fire Chief Mike Rawlings Monday in unveiling the sign naming a bridge on Veterans Boulevard in his honor. Pictured, from left, are state Rep. Dale Carr, First Baptist Church Associate Pastor Jerry Hyder, Mayor Bryan Atchley, Cindy Rawlings, and Chief Matt Henderson
Firefighters gathered to pay their respect to former Sevierville Fire Chief Mike Rawlings Monday as a bridge was dedicated in his honor.
Standing in a meadow where his boyhood home once stood, Sevierville officials and dozens of firefighters gathered one last time to honor former Fire Chief Mike Rawlings Monday by dedicating a bridge in his name.
The Michael L. Rawlings Memorial Bridge is located on Veterans Boulevard, close to where Middle Creek crosses the road near the Gathering church. Rawlings served until his death after a long battle with cancer on Jan. 1, 2012.
Mayor Bryan Atchley noted it was a fitting place for a memorial to the chief. “Today Mike Rawlings, I know, is looking down with a smile on his face from ear to ear,” he said.
Bridges are often named in memory of local figures, but he said it was especially appropriate in the case of a man who oversaw the fire department’s transition from an all-volunteer organization to a full-time, paid agency that’s staffed 24 hours a day.
“A bridge is a structure that provides safe passage along the way. Mike Rawlings did that the day he joined Sevierville/Sevier county Volunteer Fire Department,” Atchley said. The two departments split when Sevierville opted to start a full-time, paid agency, although they still share a headquarters in downtown Sevierville.
State Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, recalled working with Rawlings as a volunteer.
“He was chief but he was a fellow firefighter,” he said. “Even when I was a volunteer and he was my assistant chief, lots of times he would be right there beside us,” Carr said.
Rawlings’s wife, Cindy, was there to help unveil the sign. “I think it’s quite an honor that they’ve bestowed upon him,” she said.