Following in his father’s footsteps‚ Dennis Cauthen carried on the tradition of leading the Elgin Volunteer Fire Department as its chief for over 15 years. While serving the same department for more than 30 years‚ he also served several terms on the Lancaster County Fire Commission and was an active member of the Lancaster County Fire Chiefs’ Association.
Dennis was also an instructor for the South Carolina Fire Academy for over 17 years. During that time he provided over 2‚165 hours of instruction to hundreds of local and regional firefighters in various courses. In addition to his dedication to the fire service and his full-time job‚ as the owner of Williams Flooring‚ he volunteered in many other capacities. At his local church he was board of trustees chair‚ president of the men’s club‚ a Sunday school teacher‚ and a site leader for Salkehatchie Summer Service Camps (a United Methodist Church mission camp) and even participated in mission trips internationally. He volunteered with the local Boy Scout Troop 180 as a board member and a venture crew leader.
Dennis was not only a mentor‚ but a father figure to so many people beyond his core family. He provided support and guidance to his children‚ as well as other children‚ while coaching his son’s sports teams and teaching classes for his daughters at Girl Scouts.
Dennis was a loving‚ caring‚ and amazing husband‚ father‚ grandfather‚ son‚ brother‚ mentor‚ and friend. He worked endlessly for those he loved‚ including his wife‚ Teresa‚ and their three children‚ five grandchildren‚ and his parents. Not only did he live a life of service to his family‚ but he also devoted much of his time to others in the church‚ scouts‚ community and fire service. Dennis achieved his goal of making memories for everyone.
In his memory‚ the Lancaster County EMS renamed their annual “First Responder of the Year Award” the “Dennis J. Cauthen Award” for his years of dedication and teamwork. He was also honored by the firefighting class at Lancaster High School and the Lancaster County fire service‚ when they dedicated their new training facility in his memory.
If everyone could only do half of what Dennis did during his lifetime the world would reap great benefits‚ as he served everyone as part of his own family. He lived by the motto ‘Instead of giving someone a fish and feeding them for day‚ take the time to teach them to fish so they will have food for a lifetime.’
On August 16‚ 2011‚ at the age of 54‚ Chief Dennis J. Cauthen lost his life while serving his community and those he loved so dearly.