Family mourns woman killed in fire whose ‘heart was as big as Texas’

CANNON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Beverly Combs, 64, was at her home in Cannon Township with her husband, Alan, when their home caught fire on Friday. Her husband and two dogs survived, but Beverly did not.

Her family says, not only is this a huge loss but them, but for the entire community.

Alan Combs was a police sergeant for almost 30 years in Jackson. He's now a substitute teacher for Rockford Schools and everyone knows him as 'Sarge'. Beverly was known as Sergeant Mom, her kids say. Beverly's family says she was a true patriot and was the perfect grandmother.

Beverly leaves behind two children, Shannon and Aaron, as well as four grandchildren. Major Aaron Combs is currently deployed to Iraq, but is in the process of returning home on emergency leave for his mother's funeral.

Alan and Beverly Combs lived in their home on Fricke Court in Cannon Township for more than a decade. A fire around five o'clock in the afternoon on Friday would destroy their home. Beverly would not survive.

"When I found out it was my mom I literally fell to the floor," said Shannon Buys, Beverly's daughter.

Buys says her mother had a heart the size of Texas. Her parents would be celebrating 44 years of marriage next month.

"She's always just been my first call," Buys said. "She's been everybody's first call."

Shannon says her parents were a staple in the Rockford community.

"Anything that needed to be done Sarge was there and Sergeant Mom was his shadow," Buys said. "They were always there for anybody that needed them no matter what."

Alan Combs survived the fire, but was hospitalized for smoke inhalation.

"He is a broken grieving husband," Buys said. "He's heartbroken that his kids have lost their mom and that his grand kids have lost their grandma. He's lost a part of him."

Their son, Major Aaron Combs is currently serving overseas in Iraq. FOX 17 spoke to him by phone in Kuwait, where he is in the process of coming home to Grand Rapids.

"My mother was a true patriot," said Major Aaron Combs, Beverly's son. "She was the kind of lady that the National Anthem would bring her to tears every single time, especially if she was at a ball game."

Major Combs will return home on Sunday night for a few days before returning to Iraq. He was scheduled to return home for good in just a few weeks.

"If you call her, she would find a way to get there or be there and she was that person for every group she was associated with," Combs said. "It's going to leave a big hole."

A visitation will be held for Beverly Combs on Wednesday, June 7 from 5-8 pm at Pederson's Funeral Home in Rockford. Her funeral will be Thursday, June 8 at 11 am at Crossroads Wesleyan Church. Her family says anyone who has been touched by Beverly is welcome to attend both services.

In lieu of donations to the family, they ask any donations to be made instead to the Wounded Warrior Project and Kids' Food Basket.

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1 Comment

  • Linda K Foster

    My neighbor. My dear friend. Texas is huge. And yes, so was Bev’s love and her heart! She loved her Lord, her husband, her family and her country. She welcomed us to the neighborhood before we ever met her. We came to the construction site one day to find two American flags planted in the mound of soil out front. That was Bev! It was some time before we met her and we’ve been good friends and neighbors now for 12 years, attending the same church. As her daughter said she will be greatly missed! Always the first to offer help, bring a meal or do what she could. Even if her health hampered her, it never stopped her! She was a gem! Heart bigger than Texas is right!