National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Age: 60
Year of Death: 2004

Gary Don Fox

Submitted by his wife

Gary Don Fox was born in a small country home near the community of Navo‚ in North Texas on February 11‚ 1944. As the saying goes‚ ‘It was a dark and stormy night!’ His father‚ Willie Fox‚ couldn’t get the old pickup started to go fetch the doctor. As he was kickin’ and cussin’ ‚ a neighbor lady schlepped across the muddy pasture and helped bring my husband into this world.

It was another ‘dark and stormy night’ the evening he suddenly passed away after fighting a hay bale/pasture fire on July 9‚ 2004. At least‚ that’s how it felt in my heart and soul.

In the year since that dreadful night‚ I have had a lot of time and opportunity to reflect on the man he was. He was many things to many people. To his sisters and brother‚ he was often a tease and a general pain in the behind‚ but he was still dear baby brother!

His mechanical skills were self-developed as a child. He just had to tear things apart to see how they worked and put them back together – at least most of the time. His mother and daddy used to say ‘that boy can tear up an anvil with a toothbrush!’

He joined the Navy at the age of 17‚ where he continued to develop his mechanical skills and even learned how to cook! Upon his discharge‚ it was time to seriously make a living. He did what came naturally and became known as a mechanical expert and trouble-shooter. He was able to work on anything from lawn mowers to private planes. His greatest pleasure came from making old engines run like new again‚ and he spent many years in the oil field rebuilding and maintaining engines – the bigger the better.

One of the proudest achievements in his life was being a part of the establishment of our Bluegrove Volunteer Fire Department. Our first few organizational meetings were held in our back yard under the shade of the oak trees. Within a year‚ volunteers were recruited‚ and with a lot of work and dedication and community support‚ the department had built a fire hall and purchased the first fire truck‚ ‘Vanessa‚’ from the Forest Service. We now have 3 brush trucks and a medical response van‚ and are working on a Grant for a new fire service truck.

He served as chief for 7 of the 8 years since the Department was established‚ always striving to make things better for our family and community‚ which were very dear to him. He soon brought into play another service he had been thinking about – Emergency Medical Services. There are many elderly residents and families with young children in our community. It takes the nearest ambulance service anywhere from 15-30 minutes to reach our rural area. Trained First Responders would be a great asset to this area‚ and he encouraged and arranged training for members of the department‚ including himself. Many families have been assisted by our trained EMTs‚ in both medical and injury emergencies.

Don had many friends and never met a stranger. We never went anywhere that he didn’t run into someone he knew‚ or who knew him. His family was his biggest priority to him‚ and he always made sure we were well taken care of. Though he grumbled for years about not needing to be a Grampa‚ when our three grandchildren came along he just melted and found an inner happiness and contentment to his life that he had not ever felt before.

He was preceded in death by his parents‚ Willie and Estelle Fox and the devastating loss of our son‚ Gary Don Fox‚ Jr.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 37 years‚ Sherri‚ by our daughter‚ Cynthia Fox Harlin‚ and three grandchildren‚ Brandi Fox‚ Wyatt Fox and Lani Harlin – sisters‚ Billie Ann Pannell‚ Mary Chadwick and brother‚ Bob Fox‚ and many nieces‚ nephews and extended family members.

His family and friends sorely miss him and his sense of humor‚ and at the same time‚ we are all so proud of his personal achievements and that he spent his adulthood ‘making a difference!’

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  1. Daddy you are so missed. Part of our family vacation this year is going to the Fallen Firefighters memorial & have the girls picture taken in front of your name. I love you so very much & miss you more th as needed you know.

    – Cindy Blazer