Family of Brenda Cowan honored as grand marshals of Roots and Heritage Festival parade

Posted at 7:05 PM, Sep 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-07 19:05:59-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — On Saturday at the Roots Heritage Festival there was special tribute to the family of a Lexington firefighter who died in the line of duty.

Brenda Cowan's family served as the grand marshals of the festival parade.

For more than 30 years the parade has been a part of Lexington tradition.

Fred Cowan remembers what the festival looked like back then.

“It's amazing how much it's grown over the years,” said Fred Cowan.

This year, he and his family members are the guests of honor and grand marshals of the parade - honoring his sister Brenda Cowan. Fred Cowan says if his sister were here, she'd think this is all too much.

“She would say 'ya'll shouldn't have,' that's exactly what she would've said,” said Fred Cowan.

Brenda Cowan was Lexington's first black female firefighter. She was killed in 2004 when she was shot while responding to a domestic violence call.

15 years later, the pain is still there.

“You think about it, what would she be doing at this time, it goes through your mind. Of course, you never forget,” said Fred Cowan.

But there's also a sense of pride in how the city has kept her spirit alive on days like today, or the opening of the new Brenda Cowan Elementary School.

“It means a whole lot, not only for Brenda's legacy but for the family and the community that she came from,” said Fred Cowan.

It gives her family members a reason to smile.