Remembering Trooper Massengill
Published 10:49 am Saturday, February 11, 2023
A year and change have slipped by since the untimely death of Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Randall Massengill. Those who knew him agree that the big guy with the infectious smile will remain tightly held within their hearts until that day when the circle will again be unbroken.
Massengill, who was a member of the THP Critical Incident Response Team, succumbed to an off-duty medical episode on Jan. 20, 2022. Friends and family took to Facebook hours after learning of his death, posting their thoughts and feelings about the well-loved trooper.
His stepdaughter, Brooke Mullins, seemed to sum up the more private side of the gregarious man she characterized as “the best Dad a girl could ever ask for.”
“From giving me life advice, listening to me rant about everything, bringing me anything and everything I need, being a shoulder to cry on, keeping me out of trouble, teaching me how to change oil, how to build a resume and most of all for being the best dad and best friend I have ever had. I’ll never forget everything you have done for me, Mom, and Amber. You came into our lives and made everything better. I will miss walking through the house and seeing your face and hearing you say ‘Brookie, where have you been?’ or ‘get your clothes out of the dryer.’ I wish I could turn back time and just hug you again! I can’t wait to tell my kids about their Papaw Randall. I love you and I’ll never forget about you, Dad,” her post read.
Vic Graves, who shared with Massengill many a long road trip as a fellow member of the Gospel bluegrass band New Road, spoke of his “dear friend” during a recent interview.
“He was a good man. We had many laughs. He always had a personality that would make you smile. He could always tell if someone was down or gloomy and he would do something to perk you up,” said Graves. “He was a good officer. When I heard what happened, it was like a piece of my heart left because he was such a good, young man. He was dedicated to his music. And he was also dedicated to his job. But, most of all, I believe he was dedicated to the Lord.”
Massengill filled the musical bill in several well-known bands using his impressive high tenor chops and his fretwork on lead and rhythm guitar. The trooper was also a gifted songwriter.
Fellow band member Stuart Wyrick said during an interview that the laughs never stopped whenever the band was together. Massengill made sure of that.
“His one-liners kept us all going. We wrote a lot of music and traveled a lot of miles together. I miss my buddy.”
Rick Roop, another musician friend, recalled during an interview how Massengill could make the stage and recording studio a “place of peace” where audiences felt relaxed and “at home.”
“No one was too big or too small – Randall had the gift of lifting us higher and making musicians feel gifted and accomplished. I was distraught when I learned of his death.”
Musician Scott Payne recalled Massengill as a “real cut-up and a character, taking life as it came.”
Payne said during an interview that life got busy and he and Massengill were unable to keep in as close touch as during their musical touring years.
“But, I knew I could call him anytime if I needed anything and he would do everything in his power to help me out.”
Payne recalled one incident that stands out in his mind.
“We were recording a CD and were there for hours. It got to be up around three in the morning and everybody gets a little giddy and silly when you start running low on sleep. So, Randall had written out on a sheet of paper that phrase from that old television commercial Hooked on Phonics. He wrote, ‘Hooked on Phonics really worked for me’ but he intentionally misspelled every word in it. He taped it up on the door and I kept that for a lot of years.”
Mitchell Cosby, another musician friend, shared his thoughts.
“It’s so hard to believe that it’s been a year since Randall left us. No matter where you saw him, he had a smile on his face. He was such a kindhearted person. He always took the time to talk to you and ask how everything was going. It was always a joy to play bluegrass music with him whenever I got the chance. He was a professional musician. He loved everything about music. I think about him and miss him quite often. He left us way too soon.”
Fellow musician Charlie Green says “to have known Randall was to love Randall.”
“His impersonations were my absolute favorite – his Gomer Pyle one, in particular. His humor was unsurpassed, especially when paired with his talent for storytelling. I miss when he would just randomly break into song, giving me the chance to join in with the harmony. Our busy lives prevented us from getting together to jam as often as we wanted. But in a way, those random moments were our jam sessions.
“I’m sure he’s up there in heaven pickin’ and grinnin’, belting out as the loudest one. I will never forget him and our times together. Rest easy, my friend, until we meet again.”
Massengill’s widow, Shannon, took to Facebook to post a comment during the week of the anniversary of her husband’s passing.
“This week, I want to reflect on Randall’s life – not his death. He loved life; he was full of life. He would not want us sad or mourning. He didn’t want that in life and he wouldn’t want that after his life. In his honor smile, laugh, share happy memories. Don’t dwell on his death or its anniversary but be thankful for his life. There are two dates in life – birth and death. Those dates don’t matter; it’s the dash in between that means the most. Remember that dash. That’s their life. That’s where your memories will be.”