Submitted by his Wife
Samuel W. Downing
Mobile Fire-Rescue Department – Alabama
Date of Death: June 30‚ 2007
Sam was a firefighter’s firefighter. He started hanging out at the Wilmer Volunteer Fire Department when he was just 14 years old. He washed trucks‚ stretched hose‚ and was eventually allowed to drive the truck around the fire station. He was in Heaven!
He joined the Mobile Fire Department on October 8‚ 1985. His excitement never diminished. He was just as excited when his last alarm sounded as he was when his first alarm sounded. He eventually decided to climb the ‘ladder’ and made driver. He loved driving the truck‚ but hated pumping it‚ because he wanted to go in and ‘tame the beast.’ He made Captain as soon as he was eligible. He was back in Heaven.
He was devoted to his career. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Award‚ the Meritorious Operations Award‚ and the Firefighters Creed Award. He was an EMT and HAZMAT Tech. He received recognition for his efforts with the MDA Boot Drive‚ one of his personal favorites. He received the Medal of Honor‚ of which I am most proud.
His greatest legacy is his creation and performance of The Captain Sam Show‚ a one-man fire safety show. He would begin wearing Dalmatian slippers and housecoat‚ asleep‚ sucking his thumb! He would awaken to smoke in his room and would jump up and run wildly about the fire truck‚ flapping and flailing his arms‚ whooping and hollering‚ hunting a place to hide. He’d jump in the toy box and ask the kids if he was safe and wait for them to yell‚ ‘NOOO!’ and so on. He’d dress in full turnout gear and pretend to be Darth Vader so the kids wouldn’t be afraid of a firefighter attempting to rescue them. The showstopper was almost always squirting the teacher with the fire hose.
Sam loved God‚ family‚ and life. He lived every moment to the fullest. He was a lay speaker and sang tenor in the choir. He played the piano‚ banjo‚ and the ‘jug‚’ as a member of the Jericho Five Gospel Group.
His greatest enjoyment was our three wonderful children‚ Cody‚ Victoria‚ and Colton. He loved every waking minute with them‚ whether watching them play soccer‚ baseball‚ in beauty pageants‚ or simply roasting marshmallows over a campfire in the backyard. He made memories that will last a lifetime. He will live forever in our hearts and minds. We look forward to the day we’re all reunited.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw him. He had me before Hello‚ sitting there in his choir robe with that angelic tenor voice and flaxen-gold hair. He was truly a vision from Heaven.