Nothing can take away the pain of losing a son way too soon, but Paula Perdue will never forget the touching tribute so many young men and women of the area paid to her son on Wednesday.
Perdue is the mother of James Colen Newman, the 20-year-old Dugspur man who was tragically lost June 21 in a vehicle accident in Floyd County. Prior to Newman’s memorial service on Wednesday at Vaughan-Guynn-McGrady Chapel in Hillsville, pick-up trucks lined up at Carroll County High School by the dozen for a tribute to the Carroll man. They came in all colors, they came in all shapes and they came from Carroll County, Grayson County, Galax and Floyd County to pay tribute to their friend who had a passion for diesel pick-up trucks. In all, 90 vehicles took part in the tribute, which came with a police escort, lasted more than five minutes and included more than 300 people.
“He absolutely loved diesel pick-up trucks. I don’t think they were all diesel trucks, but the majority of them were. We were thinking there might be 30 or 40 people. You wouldn’t believe how shocked we were,” Perdue said. “I want to praise the over 300 young men and women who paid their respect to him and us by not only driving their trucks through town, but staying for his memorial and offering support to us, his parents.”
In all, Perdue said more than 550 people signed the guest list at Newman’s memorial service. She said the funeral home estimated 700 people were at the service. Obviously, Newman made a huge impact on his peers and his community in his 20 short years. Perdue said those young men and women will never know how much impact their tribute had on the family.
“I am sure people thought those boys just wanted an opportunity to drive those trucks, but if they could see the support they were offering us, I don’t know if anything could have made it easier for us than the support those young men and women offered us,” Perdue said. “I am sure he was in Heaven watching them and saying thank you with a big smile on his face.”
Perdue said her son knew most of his friends through diesel trucks. Over the past couple of years, Newman and his friends had been working on trucks in what they called the “Oops Garage” because of the many mistakes they made. But it was something he loved to do in his spare time. Even now, these young people continue to be a rock for Newman’s family in their biggest time of need.
“These kids are still offering us more emotional support than anyone could realize,” Perdue said. “You expect that from grownups, but these young men and women have stepped up and proven to me they are wonderful. The love they had for my son meant more to me than anything.”
Allen Worrell can be reached by calling (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN