Randy Thompson wanted everything to look nice.
He took care to straighten the rugs atop the damp ground and watched as another man laid sod over a patch of damaged grass.
He switched out a brown rug for a green one near the grave.
It’d look better, he said.
Thompson and his crew worked quickly and without much chatter to ready the site where Louisville Metro Police officer Nick Rodman would be buried.
The gravesite sat atop a small hill in the center of Cave Hill Cemetery. Some of Louisville’s most celebrated residents are buried in Cave Hill — including Muhammad Ali and George Rogers Clark.
On Tuesday, Rodman joined them.
He died last week at University Hospital from injuries sustained after his police cruiser was struck head-on by a vehicle driven by a fleeing suspect. Rodman was offering assistance in a pursuit that sped through Portland, said Louisville Metro Police chief Steve Conrad.
Rodman, 30, was an officer in the city’s First Division. He was the second Louisville Metro Police officer to die in the line of duty. His father, George, and brother, Andy, are also LMPD officers. Rodman was married and had two young children.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers from across the state attended a memorial for Rodman Tuesday morning at a large church in east Louisville.
The procession stretched a few miles as it traveled along Interstate 64, through the Highlands and to the cemetery.
Randy Thompson has dug graves for two decades. He learned the job and the reverence needed to do it from his father, a gravedigger from New York City. Thompson treats each grave like his own and speaks softly hours before the mourners arrive.
He’s got a lot of admiration for police officers, he said. His brother-in-law is a police officer in New York. He knows it’s a tough job — a dangerous job.
So, Thompson and the small crew at the cemetery took a little extra time Tuesday to straighten the rugs and smooth the grass, to make sure everything looked nice for Rodman and the hundreds who came to say goodbye.
“He risked his life every day,” Thompson said. “For everybody.”