Larry Hulsey had a special place in his heart for animals.
Last year, the former owner of Showtime Pet Grooming fulfilled his dream by opening the Creekside Lodge for animals on Tucker Road in Macon.
“He finally got to see that through,” Hulsey’s daughter, Sunny Mulkey, said Tuesday morning before his burial. “He just always had a passion for animals.”
Hulsey, a U.S. Army veteran who had been stationed in Korea, created the lodge where boarded animals wouldn’t have to be cooped up in a cage.
The 53-year-old died unexpectedly on Aug. 23
“Larry was pretty much from birth a pet fanatic. He always had loved them, had a spot in his heart for them,” his father, Fred Hulsey, said. “It’s too bad his dream ended a bit early, but his family is here to carry it on for him.”
Carry on his legacy, they did, by the bagfuls.
Tuesday morning, dozens of family members and friends left Hart’s Mortuary at the Cupola in a procession of Bibb County sheriff’s deputies and motorcycles from the Patriot Guard and the U.S. Military Veterans.
His cremains were carried in a wooden casket on a motorcycle trailer to the Macon-Bibb County Animal Shelter before the caravan would take him to Andersonville National Cemetery.
Hart’s Petuary’s hearse was loaded with bags of dog food, cat litter and other supplies for the shelter.
“We called it Larry’s love. It’s nothing but his love. The love of animals,” said Vicki Brown of Hart’s.
Interim shelter manager Tracey Belew wiped tears from her eyes as she saw the outpouring of donations.
“It’s just amazing to see that somebody in the community cared so much about animals, like we do,” Belew said, her voice cracking with emotion.
The goods will go to the community food bank that helps struggling owners keep their pets during hard times.
“So animals won’t have to come in here and be taken away from their families,” Belew said.
Karen Kitchens, another animal lover who first befriended Hulsey at his grooming business, said the tribute also acquainted many of his friends with the county’s new facility.
“He loved the shelter. He wanted it to be known it was a good place and how wonderful the new shelter was,” Kitchens said.
She thought Hulsey would be pleased.
“He’s definitely smiling. He’s with all our fur babies that went ahead of us. ... And they’re all looking down and they’re smiling just as big as they can,” she said.
Mulkey, too, was emotional when thinking about the response.
“It’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s amazing.”