Hundreds gather for Chief Painter's 'Celebration of Life'

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Saturday's "Celebration of Life" for Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter in Rainier, Ore.

RAINIER, Ore. – Hundreds gathered Saturday to celebrate the life of Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter.

A service for family, friends and members of the Rainier community was held at Rainier High School.

Chief Painter was killed in the line of duty Jan. 5 while responding to a disturbance at an audio store in downtown Rainier. On Friday, the chief was laid to rest in an emotional ceremony. Friday's ceremony started with the rider-less horse, with boots in the saddle pointing to the metaphorical past.

At Saturday's celebration of life, people remembered a compassionate man with a big heart.

"I was in a car accident, and he held me all the way to the hospital," said Natalie Potts, an attendee at Painter's service, as she fought tears. "[He] promised he wouldn't let me die." (Watch Natalie Potts on video.)

Meanwhile, the new governor of Oregon – John Kitzhaber – ordered all flags at public institutions throughout Oregon to be flown at half-staff in honor of Chief Painter. Flags were flown at half-staff through Saturday evening.


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Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter:



A particularly poignant image from Friday's memorial service was a photo taken by KATU Anchor Brian Wood of Chief Painter's 7-year-old son Riley, holding his mother's hand as the procession moved into Chiles Center at the University of Portland:

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