Gary Lee ‘Deuce’ Staley
- Porter Volunteer Fire Department
- Age: 33
- Year of Death: 2003
Submitted by his parents
Gary Lee ‘Deuce’ Staley was born June 16‚ 1969‚ in Atlanta‚ Georgia. His family moved to Texas when he was 10 years old. Gary found a love for soccer and broke several bones in giving his whole self to the sport. He graduated from high school and began work in the oil industry. Gary married Stephanie Guillot in 1993 and Courtney was born a year later. She was certainly the apple of his eye. Although their marriage ended in divorce‚ they remained friends and shared a love for their daughter.
Gary decided one day that he was going to be a firefighter and it became his greatest passion. He was Rookie of the Year his first year and became a member of the 250 club by responding to 306 fire calls. Even though he was employed as an accountant for Anadarko Petroleum Company‚ his dedication was to firefighting. Evenings and on his days off he was a regular at the fire station.
On January 19‚ 2003‚ the fire call came in for an antique car showroom and he bolted out the door. He always tried to be one of the first on the truck. Four young men were sent into the flaming building‚ but only three came out. One of the fireman’s gloves caught on fire and he had to get out quickly. The building was totally full of smoke and flames with no vision possible. While crawling out of the building‚ one of the fireman ran into a building support pole dislodging his helmet and blocking his air supply. He was in serious trouble. Gary was close to him and helped him get the helmet secured and pointed him toward the door. While Gary was assisting the second fireman‚ the third one followed the hose line to safety. He told all outside that everyone must be out because no one was on the hose line. What he didn’t know was that Gary had not seen him come out and thought he was still in the building. Gary had returned to the hose line to look for him. At that moment a race car in the showroom filled with nitrous oxide exploded – taking Gary’s life.
In memory of Gary‚ a scholarship fund to train firefighters was established in 2003. Currently‚ there are five firefighters enrolled in the fire academy in Gary Staley scholarships.
Gary died serving the community that he loved as a volunteer firefighters and will always be remembered for this heroism and sacrifice.
that is a very good story i am courtney his dauther and i thank you for every thing– Courtney
As I reflect on that tragic day, an overwhelming feeling of emotions come over me. you see I too was on that call with Gary and a number of others. I have lived this day over and over and it never gets any easier. Yesterday as I walked out of the class room at the National Fire Academy for a quick break I felt the urge to go visit my friend. As I came around the corner approaching the memorial it seemed as time stood still for a moment, I remember standing in the crowd of families standing in front of the memorial as the names were called. Brothers, sisters, children, moms and dads wept as each and every one of the names sounded from the speakers. The sound of bagpipes played in the distance followed by the beat of the drums, I felt it in my chest. As the service closed we reflected on Gary as we took out a piece of paper and a crayon to copy Gary’s name from the plaque, this was my first time to attend the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service and I haven’t returned since until now. I thought I was strong enough, I felt enough time had passed, I am a Fireman! I can control my emotions! We do it all of the time on calls right? Let me tell you something, we are all human beings! We feel pain! This was a reminder of the vulnerability we all have, it was also a reminder of how precious life and family is. I was not able to control my emotions as I walked up to the exact spot on the memorial where Gary’s name is recorded. Even without having been back since the day it was revealed I still somehow remembered the location. Such a wide range of emotions came over me that I forced myself to walk away, the only thing I could do to calm myself was to call my wife. You see she understands, she spent hours the day of January 19, 2003 waiting and wondering if I was coming home. We never really talked about it but we have a connection from that day that will never go away, her voice sounded the same to me when I called her as it did that day. She felt my emotions and I felt hers even though we are 1300 miles apart. Gary did not just leave a mark on the community he served or the fire department he served on, Gary left a mark on the family of Brothers and Sisters in the service and their families. As I close I would like to encourage each and every person that reads this to remember Gary and the sacrifice he made, and to also encourage each of you to remember the families affected buy this. Tell your family you love them every day, don’t go to bed mad and stay safe!!– Richard
PS. Janet, thank you for being my rock and my strength and the ties that bind or family together>> I love you more!!