By Rebecca Webster/Recorder News Staff
FULTONVILLE – The Randall Christian Church was filled to capacity Saturday as family, friends, and county residents remembered the life a devoted county leader.
There were many long faces as attendees walked into the church for the memorial service of Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman and Charleston Supervisor Shayne T. Walters.
Walters, who was battling cancer for nine months, succumbed to his illness on Monday at the age of 49.
Large frames with countless photos of Walters welcomed the attendees as they walked into the church.
The photos showed an active community man, playing instruments of all kinds, riding and posing with stocky horses, and spending time with friends and family.
But while those there mourned, they also made note of the fond memories of their fallen “statesman” and friend.
Upbeat music sounded throughout the church at the beginning, as the musicians told the crowd that Walters, a musician himself who played at the church, would have wanted it that way.
“I’ll fly away, o glory, I’ll fly away. When I die, Hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away,” they sang.
Pastor Lance Briofsky then took the podium and told the family and friends there that while they mourn, they also celebrate the life lived by Walters and everything he stood for in the community.
“Today, we’re going to celebrate his life, which made a mark in this community and impacted many people,” he said. “A life of value is judged by the choices people make ... Shayne lived a life of good choices, a life of honor, integrity, righteousness, and a genuine care for people that often got masked by a very tough exterior.”
Briofsky said that while you might not have gotten a hug from Walters, you would have always gotten a kindness from him.
And he left an imprint on the lives of those he touched, he said.
What stuck out most for Briofsky was how devoted Walters was to his community during the floods last year and how tirelessly he worked to help those in need.
“He was a gift to us.”
As Chris Mitchell, one of Walters friends, addressed the crowd, he reminded them that Walters was someone who was “always a good friend” and there for him when he needed him.
“The one thing that Shayne believed is that this isn’t good-bye,” he said.
He will remember Walters as an unselfish man who had a big heart, cared about people, and cared about his animals.
“He was just a man with a purpose, and whatever he put his hand to do ... he did with all his might,” he said.
After Mitchell’s eulogy, more songs were performed by the four musicians, as the congregation sang along with loud voices.
Briofsky took the podium once again to read a letter from the Randall Christian Church’s former pastor Eric Handle, who knew Walters for many years and was deeply saddened and surprised when he heard the news of Walters’ passing.
“Shayne overcame so many great obstacles in his life that terminal cancer seemed like just another impossible little mountain that he would surely climb,” Briofsky read from Handle’s letter.
His former back injury and what he then went on to accomplish in logging was a testament to the incredible power of his human spirit.
“He shook up politics in Montgomery County and cleaned up politics in the town of Charleston in the way that only a godly rebel could do,” the letter read.
And Handle’s letter continued to note Walters’ commitment to those who were in need, his many natural talents, and his strong faith.
As the service wound down, those in attendance were invited to come to the front of the church and share stories or speak about the devoted community man that they were remembering that day.
One person read a poem about his life.
Others vowed to carry on his work of helping those in the community who need it.
And some even shared their personal stories of the statesman, musician, faith-filled parishioner, family man, county official, and friend that they will greatly miss.
After the service, Kathy Coon, stood outside remembering Walters, who she first met seven years ago when she moved to the area.
“You could depend on him,” she said. “He did everything for his community, loved his community.”
If you needed help, he was there, she recalled, and just knowing him, it was clear that he was that type of man.
Paul Orzolek, who had worked with Walters on a few committees, chimed in to say that everything that was said in the service Saturday about Walters was the truth.
“It was humbling and inspiring to know him,” he said. “He was a wonderful man, and he’s going to be missed.”