Members of the Farley family spent the day Wednesday comforting one another and sifting through what remains of their Mooresville home after a deadly explosion.
Local and federal investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the house to explode.
The home, which was on Barber Loop, was owned by Tennessee Titans cornerback and Maiden native Caleb Farley. His father, Robert, was killed in the blast Tuesday.
Channel 9′s Genevieve Curtis spent the day Wednesday speaking with people who knew Robert. They shared the impact this family has had on their community.
As Caleb Farley’s electric talent lit up the Maiden football field, he was quite literally following in his father’s footsteps.
Robert Farley was a member of the 1978 Maiden High School football team that won the state championship.
“They would argue that Robert was faster than Caleb,” said head coach Will Byrne. “It’s still an argument to this day, who the fastest was.”
Byrne has known the family for well over a decade and said Robert and Caleb were alike in so many ways.
“I would always say that Caleb is the most competitive athlete that I’ve ever coached, and he got it from Robert,” Byrne said.
Beyond raw talent and a competitor’s heart, Byrne said Robert Farley rooted his family in a strong faith.
“He’s just such a great young man,” he said. “It’s a testament to Robert and to Robyn.”
And they’re leaning on that faith in the face of an unimaginable loss.
“It still seems not real, it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Byrne said.
“It’s like a horror story for Caleb and his family, the last few years going back to his mom,” he added.
Caleb’s mother, Robyn, died from cancer in 2018. Coach Byrne said there is some comfort knowing that Robyn and Robert are together again.
“Knowing that he is reunited with his wife makes a lot of people happy,” Byrne said.
It’s a bit of comfort as the community and family wrap their arms around the men who feel like their sons.
“Pray for Caleb and Josh and the family because they need it, they just need the prayers,” Byrne said.
A legacy of love
Family members said Robert Farley leaves behind a legacy of love.
Wednesday was a solemn day for them as a restoration team worked on cleaning it up. They’ll bring in heavy equipment to help with the work ahead, but family members started work Wednesday afternoon. Caleb Farley was also at the home clearing debris.
The family started their day Wednesday with a prayer before tacking the task ahead.
Robert Farley had a barbershop in Newton. His brother told Channel 9 he would often help people who came hungry to his barbershop, but he did it in a way that they wouldn’t know it came from him.
“If we ever get blessed in our life give back, its better to give then receive, that is just the mentality my brother had with the community,” Elijah Farley said. “That’s why he was loved so much, because he would give the shirt off of his back.”
That’s why so many people felt a sense of loss when they heard about the gas explosion that took Robert Farley’s life.
Elijah also spoke about Robyn and what an amazing team she and her husband were.
“You can never leave out Robyn without Robert,” he said. “Both of them were a great team. Robyn was raised up in the church as well.”
Their faith in God is what the family is leaning on amidst the tragedy.
“I know it’s hard on Josh and Caleb, but they have to know the word of God,” Elijah said. “Even though it happened -- it’s a tragedy, we hate it, but God don’t make no mistakes. It hurts like crazy, but I know in that situation, there was two people in the house, one got out and one didn’t. So it was just my brother’s time. God spared the child and took Robert.”
‘I’ve seen how many people he’s impacted’
Josh Farley told Channel 9 his late father taught him to treat the janitor the same way you treat the principal. He believes living by that motto is why his loss was so profound in the community.
Josh described his dad as wise, fair, and strong. He said Robert picked his words carefully and always shared laughs with clients at his barbershop.
The family is well known in the Charlotte metro area. Robert’s brother still works at the barbershop, and Robert married his high school sweetheart from Maiden High School.
Josh believes his dad left his mark on everyone who crossed his path.
“I’ve watched the impact he’s had, and I’ve seen it -- in this moment that’s really unfortunate -- I’ve seen how many people he’s impacted,” he told Channel 9.
Josh said he and his father shared a passion for mentoring young people in the community.
Josh says he hopes he can carry on that legacy and fill Robert’s shoes.
“I don’t know if they’re fillable, but I can kind of make my own version, I guess,” he said.
Josh said his family is considering planning a public memorial that is to be determined.
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