Anthony began his journey with the fire service at age 20, as a volunteer at Broadway Volunteer Fire Department in Broadway, Virginia, where he served as a member from 2005 until his passing. In 2006, he was hired as a career firefighter/EMT with Rockingham County Department of Fire and Rescue. In his 12 years with RCFR, he was promoted through the ranks of master fire/rescue technician in 2008, lieutenant in 2011, and captain in 2014. Anthony continued to work hard and further his education by becoming a medic. He served as a specialist on the Rockingham County and Central Shenandoah Valley Regional Hazardous Materials Team.
He constantly worked and trained to better himself, the department, the community, and those he worked with. This is something he tried to instill in his fellow coworkers. Anthony was an educator, mentor, and leader to other firefighters, constantly pushing them to be better and train harder. Despite falling ill and battling cancer, Anthony continued to set an example through his leadership and never complaining while working up until within a month of his passing. His famous sayings when training and inspiring firefighters was, “Everyone wants to be a badass firefighter until it’s time to be a badass firefighter,” and “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
Though there was no doubt Anthony loved his job, his greatest love was for his family. On July 7, 2012, Anthony married his soulmate and love of his life, Drenna. On April 27, 2013, they welcomed their son, Rylan Anthony Whetzel, and two months after his diagnosis, on June 29, 2017, they welcomed their daughter, Callie Reagan Whetzel. You could never doubt the love Anthony had for his family. His hard work and dedication to his job and his family was instilled in him by his parents, Harry and Faye Whetzel. His love for the fire service grew on his younger brother, Dustin. Anthony was beyond proud of his little brother for following in his footsteps and becoming a career firefighter with Rockingham County Department of Fire and Rescue, just like him. Anthony was an avid hunter and diehard University of Virginia fan. He shared the love of hunting and UVA with his parents, younger brother, and son.
Captain Anthony Robert Whetzel’s passing is a great loss and will leave a hole that can never be filled in all aspects of his life. We can take comfort in the striking resemblance of Anthony in his son, Rylan, and beautiful daughter, Callie. We can keep him alive by keeping the brotherhood alive! GO HOOS!