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Officials recall Bill Pratt’s good nature, love for the county

December 13, 2018 GMT

IRONTON — Lawrence County Commissioners Freddie Hayes Jr. and DeAnna Holliday passed a 2019 budget during a meeting Tuesday, but most of their thoughts and words were about their fellow commissioner who wasn’t there.

The late Commissioner Bill Pratt, who was suffering from depression, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday.

“These last six months, Bill was going through some tough things,” Hayes said. “He still smiled every day even though he was sick.”

“I love Bill, and you can’t replace him,” Hayes said. “I am at a loss for words. He loved this county. He was strong-minded. I’m going to miss Bill. I’m going to miss his smile, his phone calls, his texts. I will continue to try to do what he would want us to do.”

Hayes talked about the time he and Pratt were running for county commissioners seven years ago and he had a trailer with both of their pictures on it. They kept the trailer, even though Pratt had been advised to put the trailer away until after the election.

“We were blessed to win,” Hayes said.

“It’s really tough to be here today,” Holliday said. She cried during the business part of the meeting, missing Pratt. “I know God blessed me when I got this job and put us together. Bill was a great storyteller. I learned a lot from him. He had so much compassion for this county.

“I believe we all have a purpose in life,” Holliday said. “He was a true public servant. He was so proud of his family. Bill touched the lives of everyone in this county, and we will be forever grateful for that. I love you, my friend.”

County Auditor Jason Stephens made sure to wear a purple shirt and tie Tuesday in honor of Pratt, a former Chesapeake school board member. Purple is the school color for the Chesapeake district.

“We would gloat when Chesapeake would win,” Stephens said.

Stephens, a former county commissioner, said Pratt joked with him about sitting in his former seat on the board.

“Bill’s focus was unique,” Stephens said. “He had a way of focusing everyone’s attention. He helped every community in this county. He did it with a smile that was unmatched.”

“Our hearts broke” when hearing of Pratt’s death, said Clerk of Courts Mike Patterson. “We loved Bill. He loved his Buckeyes,” Patterson said of Pratt, an Ohio State University graduate.

Cole Webb, a Union Township trustee, said Pratt mentored him in his run for office.

“Remember, if you win, you’re not a politician; you’re a public servant,” Webb said Pratt told him.

“Dad was the kindest, funniest person,” said Allie Pratt, one of his daughters. “He was my best friend. He was the best dad anyone could ever ask for. He was amazing.”