Last Call

November 09, 2019 | Missions and Outreach | Dick Duerksen

Everyone knew her, or at least recognized her voice. For 29 years she had been the Tillamook County (Ore.) emergency response dispatcher. When you heard her call sign, “813,” on your radio, your heart began to beat faster.

Rosalind attended Tillamook Adventist School and then Laurelwood Academy, but after graduation she chose to go a different direction. Not that she was ever far from God, just disinterested in church. When her health diagnosis left no more options, she planned her funeral service and asked that it be held by the Adventist pastor at the Seventh-day Adventist church in Tillamook.

Her husband, Tillamook’s assistant fire chief, told Pastor Tim of his wife’s request. “We want the service to be short,” he said, “with classical music but no hymns, and with whatever you Adventists do for a funeral service.” The two men are good fire-fighting friends, for Pastor Tim is part of the community, one of the local firefighters, a man well acquainted with “813” and all of the county first responders.

The next time the chief called it was to say they had decided to give Rosalind a full “Line of Duty” call, for she was serving as the emergency dispatcher when she died. “And this includes a procession from the sheriff’s office to the church,” he said, “and a Last Call for Rosalind.”

“I called our organist,” remembers Pastor Tim, “and told him Rosalind’s desires. I called a couple deacons to help care for parking, invited a friend to play bagpipes, asked a violinist to play a classical Bach piece, and brought in the Tillamook Adventist Hospital president, a key spiritual leader in the community, to read the Scriptures. And I went online and ordered a Class A uniform.”

They came. All of them. Oregon State Police vehicles, police cars, fire trucks, dispatch vehicles and ambulances — 37 vehicles filled with uniformed men and women who had heard Rosalind’s radio voice so many times. Each one remembering the moments when she had called. Each one ready to experience one more “813” memory.

Two ladder trucks stretched tall and suspended an American flag over the church entrance.

Pastor Tim’s message was brief and clear. “We’re going to do a Last Call for Rosalind today, and though Rosalind will not hear this Last Call, she will hear the next one, the great Final Call when God’s trumpets will sound and those who died believing in Christ will hear His call and rise to everlasting life.”

Then one of the dispatchers got on the radio, called “800-813” and waited for Rosalind to answer. When there was no response, the dispatcher called again. “800-813.” Three times the call went out, and three times there was no response. The third time the dispatcher ended the call with the words “call terminated.”

“It was,” Pastor Tim says through teary eyes, “a very emotional moment. I was very glad we had placed a tissue box on each pew. I'm eager for the final trumpet to call!”