Roll of Honor

J Sorrell Thomas

J Sorrell Thomas

  • Senior Firefighter
  • Concord Fire Department
  • North Carolina
  • Age: 67
  • Year of Death: 2021

Ron McGarvey was born September 28, 1964, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, to W. Richard and Ella K. McGarvey.

Growing up, he enjoyed spending time with his four brothers, camping, and running his paper route. In school he played cello, participated in musical theater, and ran cross-country. Ron graduated from high school in Webster, New York, in 1982 and attended Houghton College to study computer science. While there, he sang in the college choir. In 1983, while working at a Christian summer camp, Ron met Tammy Newton, and they married July 16, 1988.

After graduation, Ron worked for Xerox Corporation until he and Tammy were called into Bible translation with Wycliffe Bible Translators. He served in Wycliffe for 18 years at the JAARS Center in Waxhaw, North Carolina, in various computing roles, until God led them out of the organization in 2014. He was working as a business analyst for Wells Fargo Bank at the time of his death.

Ron loved working outside, camping, hiking, gardening, biking, running, working out, being with his family, smiling, and laughing, but most of all serving others.

Ron was servanthood exemplified. Everywhere he went, he found ways to serve. Serving Tammy and their two children, Lydia and Samuel, was his highest priority. Over the years he served in many roles in various churches, from children, youth and young adult leaders, treasurer, hospitality and medical team leads, and Bible study group leads. When his family moved south to serve at the JAARS Center, he discovered new ways to serve through the local volunteer fire department.

Ron served the Waxhaw community for almost 20 years as a fireman/EMT and in various other roles at the department. From 2005-2006 he served as secretary and, in 2007, served as president of the board of directors. In 2013, he was promoted to lieutenant; and in 2015, was promoted to captain, serving in that capacity for the rest of his career.

Ron had an easygoing, loving personality. One couldn’t help but like him. He was super competitive but quick to encourage others to do their best. He didn’t know a stranger and was always catching up with those he knew, even if it was at a vehicular accident at two in the morning and everyone else just wanted to get back to their beds once the scene was clear! His smile lit up a room, and many commented how his smile and easygoing manner put them at ease during their emergency.

We all miss that amazing smile and upbeat attitude, but we have to trust that God, in His big story, has a purpose to Ron’s death that will ultimately bring God glory and bring more people into His kingdom.

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