Lieutenant James P. “Punkie” Kegley Jr. was a member of the Hanover County Fire and EMS Department for 30 years. As a child he would ride to the firehouse with his father, who was a volunteer, and he watched as the men went out on the calls. That is where he developed his love of the fire service. He began his firefighting career with Hanover as a volunteer firefighter in 1985 at the age of 16. During his years as a volunteer, he received an associate degree in fire science from J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College.
In 1999, Punkie was hired as Hanover’s fifth career firefighter. He was so proud to serve the community he had grown up in. In 2001, Punkie was promoted to lieutenant. For the next twelve years he proudly served as a mentor, educator, and leader of several stations until he was medically retired in January 2013. He always worked hard to make his family, as well as his fire department family, proud through his dedication, service, and kindness to all.
We honor Punkie today by remembering the things that made him special to so many. We remember the special attention he gave to all he taught, passing his love of the fire service on to so many. Those he taught DPO to now know “Punkie math.” He could truly say he loved his job and lived every little boy’s dream. He couldn’t go far without seeing someone he knew; he seemed to know everyone. He had such pride in his family and his service, and that’s where the phrase “Punkie Pride” came from. To keep Punkie’s memory alive, his family started the James P. Kegley Jr. Memorial Scholarship for a graduating high school senior from his high school who plans on going into the fire service or public service.
He was preceded in death by his father, who started his love of the fire service early. He is survived by his wife, Amy; son, James III, who is following in his father’s footsteps as a volunteer firefighter; son, Joshua, who is so much like his dad; mother, Brenda; and sister, Valerie.