My small village lost a hero this week. He was a regular guy, who could pull off a good joke. He had a car repair shop in this bedroom community of about 1,400. Although you wouldn’t get your oil changed in an hour, the mechanic was an honest guy who wouldn’t try to upsell you unless he did notice something that was direly needed.
When he wasn’t under the hood of someone’s vehicle, he was in a fire truck. This week, my village lost the man who was our fire chief for 38 years.
Faith doesn’t travel much faster than in a firetruck, the pastor said at his funeral. This guy helped people at their worst, when their cars weren’t working or when fire took their possessions, and possibly some lives.
His life ended after a call, while trying to get cars fixed for folks needing them for holiday travel. He died with his boots on, they said.
They did a final call to the chief, calling him home for a rest he didn’t take in life. He was escorted to his final resting place by a fire truck, and honored along the way by the community he served for more than 40 years.
Courage, honor and value were printed on a plaque laid next to his coffin, as a dedication to all firefighters. Few people wear these words in life. The longtime chief of a volunteer fire department in a rural village lives those words, while being just an ordinary guy.