The small things: Sheriff addresses crowd during fallen deputy memorial

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

SALISBURY — Tuesday marked two years since Rowan County Deputy Billy Marsh lost his life to COVID-19 complications, but the members of his former department continue to honor his legacy.

On the lawn of the Rowan County Courthouse, in front of the fallen officers memorial, law enforcement officers from the sheriff’s office and the Salisbury Police Department joined with members of Marsh’s family, including his widow and daughter, to mark the second anniversary of his passing.

Rowan County Sheriff Travis Allen reminisced about working a football game at West Rowan High School three weeks before Marsh’s death and how he wished he could relive that night for these conversations that played out between them.

Although emotional, the ceremony was modest.

“Billy would not be big on the fanfare or the attention,” Allen said. “So we thought, let’s make it a gathering of friends, family and co-workers.

“I want this not to be a sad time. I want this to be two years later, where we look back on a few things and have encouragement.”

A man of faith, Allen turned to the Bible for a passage from the book of Acts as he addressed the crowd.

“Something got a hold of me this week,” Allen said. “This is the apostle Paul, going into the city of Jerusalem, and he does not know what to expect.”

“I think about two years ago on this day, a very sad day, and can be sure that in your mind, you thought, how am I going to go on after this? How am I going to do it? How am I going to survive? That is exactly what Paul did. He said how am I going to survive? I don’t know what will befall me.”

As Paul endeavored to do, so too did Allen encourage Marsh’s family to finish their course with joy.

“That is exactly what Billy would want you to do in your lives,” Allen said. “Two years ago, going into this situation saying, I don’t know how I am going to survive it, I don’t know how I am going to make it? How am I going to raise a beautiful child? How am I going to go without a brother or a son? How am I going to do it?”

The sheriff offered this message of optimism.

“Two years, you made it,” Allen said. “You survived one day after the other, one year after the next. One good day, one bad day, but you have survived, and you have done it for two years. Billy would look at you and say good job. Way to go.”

Speaking to a point where he finds comfort while dealing with his father’s recent passing, Allen said that it’s the small things you grow to miss when grieving the loss of a loved one.

“Billy was not the biggest person in the world,” Allen said. “He was a smaller, slender kind of guy, but you know the Bible talks about there is power in a lot of small things. I thought about what I would miss. My dad passed away in March, and I miss the small things, the little things.

“Small things are often the most important things. That is what I wanted to talk about today to give you not a sad moment but a joyful morning, knowing that you have survived two years. It has been tough, and it has been hard, but you know what, you are going to survive this year. And you are going to make it this year.”