Family and friends of Monroe Isadore filled Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday for his funeral service, which focused not on examining his death but rather on celebrating his life.
Isadore, who died Sept. 7 at the age of 107 after exchanging gunshots with Pine Bluff police officers, was remembered as a devout Christian who shared his faith with everyone he met.
“Monroe Isadore tried to treat everybody right,” said the Rev. Lafayette Woods Sr., pastor of Mt. Bayou Missionary Baptist Church in Altheimer and the circuit clerk of Jefferson County. “He didn’t meet strangers. He didn’t care if you were white, black, whatever, Mr. Isadore would talk to you about Jesus.”
The Rev. Anthony Craig, pastor of Mount Carmel, delivered the eulogy, which focused on Isadore’s faith and his legacy.
Isadore is survived by 10 children, 27 grandchildren and 66 great-grandchildren.
“This is not the day to ask questions,” Craig said at the beginning of the service. “How? Why? Today. Today isn’t the time to be asking questions. Questions will come after today. We’re here to honor the legacy of a man who lived 107 years. This man lived 107 years, and it is a blessing.”
During his eulogy, Craig told the story of a missionary who became accustomed to seeing a giant oak tree. One day, Craig said, the oak tree was no longer there. When the missionary inquired about what happened to the tree, he was told that it was gone but that some of the acorns had fallen “right over there.”
“Can’t you see the little acorns?” Craig asked as he motioned toward the side of the church sanctuary where Isadore’s family was seated. “Monroe had to leave here, but some of the acorns fell over there. … He lives in you.”
Isadore’s daughter Marilyn Howard of Alexander spoke in tribute to her father, reading several verses of Scripture from the Apostle Paul, who she said was a favorite of Monroe Isadore.
The funeral service was attended by several city, county and state officials, including Pine Bluff Alderman Steven Mays, Alderwoman Thelma Walker, Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Delton Wright, Sheriff Gerald Robinson and state Sen. Stephanie Flowers.
Isadore’s death prompted two investigations by the Pine Bluff Police Department — one an internal investigation to determine whether department policy was followed and the other a criminal investigation.
The case file from the criminal investigation was turned over to Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter, who requested an independent investigation by the Arkansas State Police. After that request was denied, Hunter recused himself from the case and a special prosecutor was appointed.
Saturday’s funeral service included little mention of the controversy surrounding Isadore’s death, but Woods touched on the subject at the close of his remarks.
“Today is about celebrating the life of Monroe Isadore, and that’s what I’m going to do,” Woods said. “I do reserve the right after this celebration for some more information and a thorough investigation.”
After the service, the funeral procession traveled to Forest Lawn Memorial Garden for burial.