Paul Edwin Quattlebaum Jr. was born October 13, 1972, to proud parents, Paul and Debbie Quattlebaum. They were excited to welcome their firstborn into the world. He was full of excitement from an early age to explore and make new discoveries in a new world. He quickly learned that Mom and Dad held a short leash. They would let him explore and find his way, always under a watchful eye.
He was an average student who found out that he enjoyed the outdoors more than school. His granddad would take him deer hunting in the low country of South Carolina. He quickly grew to love to hear the dogs run and enjoyed the excitement of the hunt. After trying college for two years, he decided to join the Marine Corps. His dad had fought with the Marines in Vietnam. Hearing his dad talk of the war, he decided that the Marines were his future. All was well until one night at the beach a car ran through a stop sign and crushed his left leg below the knee. He received a medical discharge after twelve plus months of recovery.
Searching for a way in life, he became friends with some firefighters, prompting him to become a volunteer with Lexington County Firefighters Association, which led to full-time in 2000. He convinced skeptical parents that he had made the right choice. At first, his mom and dad were disappointed, but they quickly learned that he had made the right career move. Like the Marines, firefighters are a unique brotherhood who proudly serve to keep people safe in a time of crisis. It is indeed an honorable profession.
It was at the fire station where he met Tanya, who became the mother of his son, Elijah Paul Quattlebaum. Paul Edwin was the proud father who loved his son more than anything. He taught Elijah to dream big and aim high. It was both their dream to own a log home in the mountains of Tennessee. He was anxiously looking forward to retirement to live out his dream with Elijah.
His life was taken on October 4, 2019, when he was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer while giving aid and assistance to a motor vehicle accident.
Paul Edwin loved family, and he loved God. All that knew him saw him as a kind and generous man. He ran a pool maintenance business that quickly became more than he wanted, but he continued to work hard to reach his goals in life.
Life is so empty for family and friends without his presence. He loved deeply and faithfully. Rest in Peace, my dear son. You will forever be missed here on this earth.
A good firefighter-friend of mine once said to me‚ Dying in the line of duty doesn’t make you a hero. The first day you put on your gear‚ that’s when you become a hero. If that statement is true‚ my brother became a hero at the age of 18‚ and he lived his dream until his death at age 22.
Jeffrey Vaden Chavis knew at a young age that he would grow up to be a firefighter. He had many other interests through the years‚ but none as strong as firefighting. He played little league football‚ took gymnastics‚ and learned to play the guitar and trombone in elementary school. In middle school he played football. High school was much the same – he lettered in football his senior year. In addition‚ Jeff joined the Future Farmers of America. He competed in local‚ state‚ and national competitions in the FFA and won several awards. In 1997‚ his senior year at Lexington High School‚ he was elected President of the local chapter of the FFA. He could have gone again to the national competition‚ but he gave up his spot for a chance to live his dream.
When school was out each afternoon‚ you could always find Jeff at the fire department. He wasn’t old enough to volunteer yet‚ but he loved to help the guys wash the trucks and roll the hoses‚ or just hang out waiting for the alarm to sound. The chief of our local volunteer station had already turned in Jeff’s volunteer paperwork so that he could start to volunteer as soon as he turned eighteen. And‚ on March 28‚ 1997‚ his eighteenth birthday‚ he left in the midst of a birthday party‚ given in his honor‚ to run his first fire call. The rest is history. Jeff took many classes to learn more about the fire service and firefighting. He even received a plaque that year for the most training hours completed by any firefighter in that department.
But Jeff didn’t stop there. He continued taking classes and furthering his knowledge of firefighting. Among other things‚ he attended classes to become an EMT. His training paid off‚ and in a short time he was given a full-time firefighting job. He wasn’t satisfied. He signed up for classes offered by our county fire service and the state fire academy. After several months at his dayshift firefighting job‚ Jeff transferred to another station in the county‚ working on a rotation schedule. While serving at this station‚ he signed up for – and completed – a certified instructor’s class so he could share his knowledge with other firefighters. In the four years he was active in the fire service‚ he received awards for training hours completed and excellence in training; and twice he was voted firefighter of the year.
On June 16‚ 2001‚ Jeff was working his scheduled shift at Round Hill Fire Department in Lexington‚ South Carolina when he responded to a call in a Lake Murray subdivision. He entered the house through the garage and was entrapped when the garage door and the ceiling fell. Jeff was flown to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta‚ Georgia‚ with bums on 53% of his body. He passed away on July 12‚ 2001. Because of Jeff’s bravery and dedication to the fire service‚ a housing facility has been named for him at the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation on the Burn Center grounds in Georgia. The Jeffrey Vaden Chavis House will house family members of burn patients free of charge. Donations given in his memory – and to honor the sacrifice he gave – made this building possible. Firefighter 307 – Jeffrey Vaden Chavis – gone but never forgotten. Rest well‚ my brother. You will always be in our hearts.