HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol will be remembered not far from where he died.
On Memorial Day, the city of Hendersonville honored Spencer by naming a portion of I-65 after him.
In December 2019, Spencer was hit and killed by a car on I-65 while chasing a suspect. Spencer was 31 years old and had a wife and young child.
His widow, Lauren Bristol, said her late husband loved pomp and circumstance, but would’ve let out a small laugh if he could see everything his community is doing to preserve his memory.
“He’d kind of chuckle I guess, looking and seeing what’s been done for him,” Lauren said. “For him, it wasn’t a big deal. He just always felt like he was doing his job. He never felt like he was a hero. He just wanted to help people.”
However, by all accounts, Spencer was a hero. He served in the Navy as a medic and was a Hendersonville police officer.
“His passion was saving people and serving people, and he was a servant leader, and this is the type of community that really honors and respects that,” said Dan Bristol, Spencer’s father.
In addition to all of his professional roles, those who loved him said he was also a family man.
“It means a lot for my daughter that she will have these reminders of him growing up throughout life because she was three when he died,” Lauren said.
For all these reasons and more, state lawmakers like Rep. Johnny Garrett (R—Goodlettsville) said they put in the time to memorialize Spencer.
Garrett said he hopes that when people drive by the sign with Spencer’s name on the highway, they ask themselves who he was and why he deserved to be honored.
“It might spark someone else to follow in his footsteps and want to provide safety for the public to enjoy days like we are enjoying today,” Garrett said.
Yet family said a memorial like this can be bittersweet, serving as a constant reminder of where the man they loved died and also as a mark of his heroism.
“You never believe you are going to be on this side of Memorial Day, but it’s super meaningful to know that people remember,” Lauren said.
She said she recognizes that her husband didn’t die while serving his country oversees, but is honored her husband can be celebrated among the other heroes who did.