As one family remembers the last minutes of 2007, somber moments, as they are forced to say goodbye to one of their own.
"I never ever saw my dad without a smile on his face." -- That's how 14-year-old Meriyah Martinez remembers her father Doug Little, as she, family, and friends pay their final respects to the man they all say had a magnetic personality.
"He was the most amazing, wonderful person," said Alicia Flynn, Little's roommate. "He cared about everyone."
Little was tragically killed last Thursday after his truck rear-ended a semi carrying a crane, and the crane fell on top of him. His family says they are still struggling to cope with the event, but Little's spirit helps them carry on.
"We've had a lot of family and friends," said Jeff Davis, Little's brother-in-law. "Doug knew an amazing amount of people, so having everybody here has helped a lot."
During his emotional memorial service at Fellowship Church, friends and family shared stories of Little's passion for life and country western dancing. Each of them was wearing purple, Little's favorite color. Those who knew him say he wouldn't have wanted to be remembered any other way.
"Most important to Doug was one, his daughter -- two, his family -- three his friends," said Davis. "His friends were as equal as family."
More than 300 members of that family were at the service Monday afternoon. His family says, they're not surprised by the large turnout.
"I know that he had a lot of friends and he cared about everybody so much," said Martinez. "I'm really going to miss him."
And miss him, all his friends and family will.
"I'm going to love him and I'm going to miss him dearly," said Patty Hackley, Little's girlfriend. "Nobody is ever going to be able to replace him."
After the service, purple balloons were released into the sky. But one thing his family says it will never let go of is his outgoing, and loving spirit.
Little's family has set up a memorial fund that will benefit his daughter. If you would like to help, donations are being accepted at any American National Bank in the Grand Valley.
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