Hometown Heroes: Tracy Bullard

It was his signature smile — and an even bigger heart — that made Tracy Bullard stand out in a crowd.

Every person he came into contact with was on the receiving end of a bear hug, handshake and friendly conversation. Anyone could tell during those conversations Bullard truly cared about what they were sharing with him.

Bullard, 52, who passed away after a car crash Dec. 19, 2018, in Johnson County, recently was selected as a Hometown Hero by The Tribune.

While his death was a major loss to a close-knit family, it also was a significant one in the community. He was remembered by those who knew him through school, work, athletics and church, as someone who was always willing to lend a hand.

He left behind a legacy of helping children through his work at the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour and local football leagues.

Bullard served as a board member at the Boys and Girls Club for 20 years and received the National Service to Youth Award from Boys and Girls Club of America.

After his death, Bullard’s friends established the Tracy Bullard Memorial Endowment at the Community Foundation of Jackson County so his work to support children will continue.

The annual grant to the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour will provide member with scholarships and other assistance to club members. Gifts to the fund can be tax-deductible.

While he made an impact on many youth throughout the community, he also played a major role for kids in his family.

His niece, Jordan Sawyer, nominated Bullard and certainly believes he is worthy of being a hero.

Sawyer said she and her sister, Taylor, did not have a father growing up, but she could always count on her Uncle Tracy to be there for Doughnuts For Dad, sports games and other activities growing up.

“Not only did he take care of and father his own, but he stepped in for me and my sister in a big way,” she said. “He was always there.”

The two shared a birthday and Bullard was even going to be ordained as a minister so he could officiate Sawyer’s wedding this fall.

“I’d always stay up until midnight so I could text him first,” she said. “He was willing to officiate my wedding, which meant a lot.”

Bullard even took an interest in Sawyer’s children, teaching her son, Brodey, about how important it was to “hustle” when he participated in sports. He also taught her daughter, Raeleigh, how to ride a bike.

Sawyer’s mother and Tracy’s sister, Michelle Bullard, said her brother was a giving person without expectations.

“He was always doing and giving to people and not expecting anything in return,” she said.

Michelle said he would take cookies to the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour each Friday just so the kids there could have an extra treat.

Many people would go to her brother with their problems, and oftentimes they’d receive a solution or advice, she said. It was his attitude and caring personality that made him approachable, she said.

“And everything always stayed between him and that person,” she said. “He didn’t like gossip, but just wanted to help you.”

Bullard remembers her brother being active in athletics and loving football. That love for football stayed with him throughout his life.

“It was his passion,” she said. “I’m not sure what drew him to it, but he loved it.”

And once again, he wanted to use his passion to focus on youth. Tracy was a founding member of the Seymour Area Youth Football League.

All of his work was to serve something greater than himself, Sawyer said.

“He never boasted about himself, and he was just a servant of God, and God was the center of his life,” she said. “In all his years here, he did an exceptional job of doing that.”

Michelle can remember when he was working at the family business and he would hand out cards with Bible verses.

“He would hand them out and say, ‘Here you go, brother,’” she said.

Michelle now has his Bible, and saw what he had highlighted and valued over the years.

“Every day has been hard because he was such a wonderful person,” she said. “I think he taught me a lot of things, but the last thing my brother taught me was how to grieve.”