Deputy and wife who died in tornado leave a legacy of bravery and love

Updated: Apr. 13, 2020 at 11:06 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The tornadoes in Lawrence County destroyed Robert and Paula Ainsworth’s house, ending their lives. But loved ones say they leave a memory that won’t be destroyed by tornadoes or time.

“It’s not very common that you hear of a husband and wife that pass away together and all I can say is he died a hero,” said Sheriff Ryan Everett.

Everett is talking about Deputy Robert Ainsworth and his wife Paula. Their home took a direct hit from the deadly tornado that passed through on Easter Sunday. Everett said when his office learned of the path of the tornado, they tried to reach the Ainsworths immediately.

“So I called him and didn’t get an answer. So we got ready to go down there and dispatch called and said that someone had stopped by and called in and said his house was not there," Everett said. "By that time there was a cousin on the scene and he had actually found him and his wife prior to our arrival.”

Frederick Magee knew Paula Ainsworth from Walthall County where she worked in the justice court.

“She was the same lady every time you see her. Smiling, good people," he said. "And she’s going to be missed in Walthall County Justice Court. People loved her, the community loved, her and the county loved her.”

Magee said Paula Ainsworth’s legacy, like her husband’s, will be one of kindness to everyone.

“She’s always smiling, willing to help people and the community, so that’s why I enjoyed her," Magee said. "I want to remember her just like that.”

Everett said his deputy – the retired Marine – went out on a selfless act, just the way he lived his life.

“He was shielding her with his body whenever we got there.”

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