Submitted by his family and department
Billy John Tucker was a people person. He loved his family‚ friends‚ community and church. He enjoyed what he did‚ he loved being with and helping others. He died April 6‚ 2003 while working a wreck. He is greatly missed by all who knew him‚ but his memory remains with us.
Billy John joined the Broomtown/Rinehart Volunteer Fire Department shortly after moving home to Cherokee County in 1989. He was elected chief in 1992 and resigned as chief in 2001. Billy John continued to serve as treasurer and was on the Board of Directors at the time of his death. Billy John joined the Cherokee County Rescue Squad in 1993 and was still active at the time of his death. He was also a member of the Cherokee County Fire Association. Billy John was president of the Boosters Club at Gaylesville High School for a couple of years. He was involved in local political events that would help our community.
Billy John Tucker was born [November 24‚ 1932] and raised in Cherokee County Alabama. He graduated from‚ and played football for Gaylesville High School. He later moved to Georgia and married Peggy Walters‚ after his marriage to Peggy‚ they moved to Detroit‚ Michigan where they lived for a number of years before moving back to Georgia. Together they raised seven children: Michael‚ Nancy‚ Teresa‚ Ricky‚ Susie‚ Phyllis and Steve. Billy John helped to start a church while living in Georgia. He enjoyed playing golf.
Billy John was a wholesale food broker for AtAtlanta when he moved back to Cherokee County Alabama in 1989 he remained with them until his retirement. He later helped his niece and her husband with their business [Empire Printing] in Centre‚ Alabama‚ and worked at various things at various places. He loved seeing and being with people.
Billy John was an active member of the Berryton Ga. Church of God. He and his wife served as directors of the Young At Heart.
Billy John Tucker worked hard for our fire department and helped accomplish a lot‚ we really needed to add on to our building in order to have bathrooms and office space for the department‚ he worked with the ladies auxiliary and after a lot of hard work and a number of fund raisers this was accomplished‚ he had a ball‚ we did a Bingo as a fund raiser‚ with cakes and whatever anyone would donate as a prize. It was an election year and he talked to all the candidates and invited them up to the Bingo‚ needless to say it was a great success with all the candidates spending and making donations. After that‚ the Bingo Fund Raisers were his baby‚ so to speak. He was our own public relations man then. Billy John Tucker worked to get the younger men in the community interested in the fire department‚ and to get the Ladies Auxiliary started back‚ after they slacked off. He and two other members signed a personal note to get our first pumper truck‚ and also helped to get a brush truck donated from our state forestry department‚ and helped to get a building erected to house it in. Billy John also helped to get the Cherokee County Road Department to pave our parking lot.
When talking with Peggy‚ she told me he was ‘A good Daddy and a good provider for his family’. On April 6‚ 2003 he decided to go to bed early‚ just after he laid down the call came in about the wreck‚ he got up and told Peggy he better go see if he could help the boys. [Two of his sons are in the department‚ but he called them all his boys.] That was their last conversation‚ and the last time she saw him alive. It was reported that he pulled two children out of the wreck before becoming the next victim of a wreck himself. He was known by his family and the younger men in the department as ‘Big Daddy’.
Billy John Tucker ‘Big Daddy’ is missed by all who knew him.
Submitted by his family
Vannie was a very loving husband‚ father‚ and friend to many. His life was short but he accomplished a great deal in his 54 years.
His life was taken while he was doing something he loved very much‚ being a volunteer fireman for Gulfport Gladstone Fire District. He was Assistant Fire Chief and was also a member of the Rescue Squad.
Vannie donated his time doing fish fries‚ soup suppers and anything else he could to help better the fire department. Actually‚ he donated his time to help just about anyone at anytime. An invitation was never necessary just the words that help was needed.
This was also true of the surrounding towns of Biggsville‚ IL and Oquawka‚ IL and their local fire department. While he was working in Biggsville‚ about five miles from home‚ the local fire department didn’t have enough firemen available for the daytime so he joined to assist during the day when needed.
Vannie was a member of the Oquawka Fire Department for eight years prior to moving to Gladstone.
Vannie and Edna Keever were married 36 _ years. We have four children: Fay‚ Tammy‚ Sherry‚ and Vannie Jr and six grandchildren whom he loved very much.
Submitted by his wife and three daughters.
Captain Dennis George Mignerone was born on August 19‚ 1952. He became a professional firefighter on July 7‚ 1976‚ when he joined the Webster Groves Fire Department. He attended St. Louis University where he received his Paramedic License on June 30‚ 1980. In 1998‚ Dennis was promoted to Captain and assumed the duties as the Chief Medical Officer in charge of the ambulance service for the Department. I can still remember waking the girls up so that we could all watch him leave for work in his brand new white Captain’s shirt. That day was one of the proudest days of Dennis’s career. On January 21‚ 2003‚ Dennis was performing Department prescribed exercises when he suffered a heart attack; he was 50 years old. He served in this great brotherhood for the City of Webster Groves for over 26 years. A couple of days following his death a representative of the fire department was quoted as saying‚ ‘Dennis was a leader‚ a mentor and a friend. He served with honor‚ courage and integrity and will sorely be missed by all who knew him.’ One of the last duties Dennis performed was the ordering of the new Ambulance‚ which now reads on the left and right side‚ ‘Dedicated to our Fallen Brother Captain Dennis Mignerone.’
Dennis loved being a Firefighter. He did not consider being a firefighter work; he considered it an honor. The thought of helping others and making a difference in people’s lives was the most important to Dennis. He loved working with 40 of the Best Firefighters around. They were not just coworkers to him; they were his brothers‚ his family. Since his death‚ the Webster Groves Firefighters have been there for our family in every way. We are lucky to have them and know that they will always remember MIG.
Not only was Dennis a leader to his co-workers‚ he was a leader in his community. He served as the Vice President of the Holy Name Society and the Athletic Director at St. Simon Catholic Church for over 8 years‚ the longest in history of St. Simon to date. It wasn’t very often you didn’t see ‘Mr. and Mrs. Mig’ up at St. Simonïs cutting grass‚ painting lines‚ distributing uniforms‚ raising money at the annual picnic‚ or just helping out. He started the Holiday Basketball Tournament 13 years ago and in 2003 it was renamed the Dennis Mignerone Holiday Basketball Tournament. He was honored twice for his service‚ once in 2000 when he accepted the Man of the Year Award and again in 2003 when his family accepted the St. Simon Holy Name Society Round Table Father Dierker Award‚ the highest honor there is at St. Simon Catholic Church in his honor.
Paul and Myrtle Mignerone are the proud parents of Dennis‚ and his two brothers‚ Donald and Dale. They raised him in St. Louis‚ MO‚ where he went to Bayless High School. Dennis lettered in three sports and was active in the band‚ but more importantly met me‚ Patricia Pizzella. We were married on November 23‚ 1973 and were happily in love for over 29 years. Over those 29 years‚ we hardly did anything apart. We did the small things together like grocery shopping‚ mowing the grass‚ or picking the kids up from school. We loved to go to dinner‚ the movies and the casino boats. Dennis loved to go to Las Vegas. In September of 2002‚ our daughters sent us there for Dennis’s 50th Birthday. Dennis’s philosophy was ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’‚ but win or lose‚ what I can tell you is that we were happy‚ and I will cherish that last vacation for the rest of my life. Several friends have commented that we were like one‚ I know we still are.
Dennis and I had three daughters‚ Antoinette‚ Angela and Amy. Dennis devoted his life to his family. He enjoyed coaching all three of his girls in soccer‚ volleyball‚ softball and basketball. He also enjoyed taking our family to the lake and teaching us to water-ski‚ which was a hobby he grew up doing with his brothers. I cannot remember a time that he missed any part of their lives. Dennis’s girls were his pride and joy. I am sure that the firemen got tired of hearing how each one was doing‚ or what big accomplishment had been achieved‚ Dennis was always bragging about his girls. He was their father‚ their coach‚ their cheerleader and their friend and confidant. He showed them how to love‚ respect and cherish each other‚ values that will never be forgotten.
I loved Dennis from the day I met him‚ loved him during the glorious time we shared‚ and will continue to love him all the days of my life until I can see him again.
To my beloved husband and our loving Father‚
We love you lots‚ miss you even more and we will never forget you.
Submitted by his wife
Jim Richards was a wonderful husband of 20 years and father of our two children‚ Jessica and Joshua. He could always be found at school functions watching them proudly or cheering them on. One of his proudest moments came just 2 weeks before his death when he escorted his daughter‚ as she became Homecoming Queen at her High School football game. And again just a week before his death when Josh shot his first Canadian goose in our front yard while Jim worked in the garden.
One of Jim’s and my biggest accomplishments was the remodeling and construction of our family craft shop. Countless hours with family and friends were spent tearing down old buildings‚ cleaning up the lumber and building what in now Kountry Krafts. We have wonderful memories of times spent together doing this project.
Jim was also the owner/operator of his business‚ Richards Repair. This business of 29 years was a shop for area farmers to bring their equipment for repairs. Jim would weld‚ fix or remake farm machinery for them. Knowing all his customers personally and their families was what Jim enjoyed most about his job.
I first met Jim when we were both taking a first responders class. Jim with the Oran Fire Department and I with the Westgate First Responders. We both believed in helping our communities as much as possible. Jim served on the Oran Fire Dept. for 29 years. Three years as Fire Chief and 18 years as assistant cheif. Jim enjoyed the fire department‚ the men on this department are not just his very best friends but also a brother and a nephew. He cared deeply for these people. They were family.
The community was Jim’s life. He was a lifetime member of the IC Church in Fairbank‚ Iowa. He was very active in the FFA program at the Wapsie Valley High School where our kids attend. He helped with the construction of the greenhouse and chaperoned countless trips for the kids. Volunteering was a big part of Jim’s life and the fire department was the biggest. Jim could be found every year flipping pancakes at the annual First Responders breakfast of helping with table clean up at the steak fry. Dealing at the Fireman’s Stag or whatever and whenever an extra hand was needed. Most of these time we would show up as a family to help. He taught his children very young to pitch in and help out and to be volunteers in life. He taught them that not everything had to be done for money and that you would be a better person by helping others.
Jim loved reading‚ fishing and spending time with his family. We loved the food‚ the talks‚ and the laughs. The memories! He loved us all as we loved him.
Jim died on October 20th of 2003. He died just a few miles from our home of a fatal heart attack. He was fighting a field and structure fire on a neighbors farm with wind gusts of 30 m.p.h.. He was 49 years old.
Jim was a good man‚ a wonderful husband‚ father and friend. He was the center of our lives and is missed very‚ very much.
Submitted by his wife
Trent was an exemplary firefighter who pursued his career with enthusiasm and knowledge. He encouraged the Rookies assigned under his leadership to excel in their careers and many achieved the rank of Driver under his leadership. Trent spent many hours of his own studying the proper procedures relating to firefighting to ensure his crew would be well prepared when called to any scene. Trent was known by his fellow firefighters at Station #10 as being the best firefighter in the City of Memphis and they were all proud to serve their community along with him. Most importantly‚ Trent was a loving‚ caring and devoted husband to his wife Donna‚ and a fun-loving happy‚ spirit-filled Christian father who led by example for his two daughters Hope and Charity.
Our loss will be felt forever‚ however‚ we find comfort in knowing that Trent is in Heaven and will be there waiting for us when it is our time to go home.
Trent felt his greatest accomplishment and treasure in this life was his wife and children. In eleven years of service since 1992‚ Trent achieved Driver in 1995‚ and Lieutenant in 1999. Additionally‚ he achieved as a firefighter the Medal of Honor in 1999 for assisting in the rescue of a 13-year old child from a burning home.
Trent and his wife Donna created a home-based business‚ Kirk’s Designs‚ which they were awarded the 1999 and 2001 Vesta Home Show awards for Best Interior Design and Workmanship.
After serving at the fire house and while on Trent’s way home‚ he noticed smoke. Following the smoke‚ he arrived and called for the fire department. He was told by neighbors that an elderly man may still be inside. Trent immediately entered the house without any of his fire equipment and searched the house completely. However‚ the homeowner was not home at the time of the fire‚ but safely away at a local hospital.
Trent always wore a smile that illuminated any room. His hearty laugh made him an instant friend. He was always there to lend a helping hand to his family and friends without any expectations. As so eloquently spoken at his funeral by fellow firefighter‚ Steve Dew‚ that after fighting a house fire together‚ Trent looked at Steve and said‚ ‘This is the best job ever!’ And in the end‚ Trent gave his life to the career he loved and in essence died doing the ‘best job ever!’
There is no profile listed for this fallen firefighter.
Submitted by his wife
Joe lived his life with a simple‚ quiet sort of passion. He loved his God‚ he loved his family‚ and he loved his work. He loved a good argument‚ and he loved a good joke – often at his own expense. He lived life and it showed. He lived every minute of his 46 years.
Joe joined the Fire and Rescue Department of Springfield‚ Illinois in 1989. He consistently challenged himself to be the best he could be. He was an intermediate emergency technician. He was promoted to Driver Engineer in 1999 and to Captain of Engine House #6 in 2002.
Joe lost his life on January 14‚ 2003. While he was fighting a fire‚ he went out to refill his air tank and collapsed. Though he was immediately rushed to the hospital‚ he did not survive.
Though Joe is gone‚ his spirit lives on through all who knew and loved him. His Division Chief said‚ ‘Joe will be missed‚ but not forgotten.’ His friend and fellow firefighter spoke of how ‘he embodied the spirit of a firefighter.’ His pastor said‚ ‘Some people serve God reluctantly. Not Joe. He saw a need and he served it.’ The Mayor of Springfield said‚ ‘If only we could all leave this world doing the work we love to do the way he did…’
Whether Joe was working‚ fishing‚ traveling out west with his wife‚ Sandy‚ their children and other family members‚ or just being with family and friends‚ he was always 100% present. And his presence is missed.
Submitted by his wife
Tom Kistler was a 25 year veteran of Polk County Fire District #1. He started out as a volunteer firefighter at Independence Fire Department and moved up the ranks to become Captain. This was an achievement he and his family were very proud of. He died March 19‚ 2003 in an accident on route to a HAZMAT training drill.
Over the years he received numerous awards such as ‘Firefighter of the Year‚’ ‘Medic of the Year‚’ and ‘Night Owl’ (most respones during the night hours.
In addition to geing a volunteer firefighter‚ he was amember of the Oregon National Guard. He had recently completed 30 years service. There he was involved in communications‚ a natural transition from radar man in the Navy. He served in the Navy for four years during the Vietnam War.
When not working‚ volunteering‚ or spending time with his family. Tom was near the water. He loved boating‚ water-skiing and fishing. His love of water led him to establish the departments water rescue. He enjoyed spending countless hours obtaining funds and equipment for the water rescue team as well as practice ddrills as a member of the team. This was why he may have been seen wearing the T-shirt that simply said‚ ‘BOATMAN.’
Tom was born in 1949 in Richmond‚ Indiana‚ the oldest of five children. He talked of growing up in a small farming community. This was what drew him to Independence‚ Oregon. There he developed a love of animals and at one time considered becoming a veterinarian. But‚ life was to take him elsewhere. He was oriented to serving people instead. He started out in autom mechanics after leaving the Navy‚ but eventually worked with transporting handicapped and elderly. Everyday he came home with a new story to tell about his passengers. He had found his passion‚ working with and serving people in all areas of his life.
His life was very full. I‚ his wife of 30 years‚ often called him a professional volunteer. He was a prout and devoted father to his two sons‚ Ben and Phil. They were both a part of him and loved very much. He volunteered as coach and rarely missed an activity they were involved in. He took every opportunity to spend time with them.
Known to friends as ‘Tommy‚’ he was respected by co-workers‚ firefighters‚ guardsmen and the community. He was dedicated to anything in which he was involved. His contribution to life will be missed.
Submitted by his parents
The Real Me‚ Written by Rich Moore
The real me is caring‚ kind and courteous‚ filled with emotion. Loving and doing anything I can for my friends. The real me is not afraid to tell you how it is‚ and be blunt when you ask. The real me most of all likes to have fun‚ whether it be bike riding‚ dirt bikes‚ camping or cruising around town‚ anything to have fun. But having fun is not possible without having someone to share it with. Whether it is a friend or someone a little bit closer. Without friends‚ I might not be so caring‚ so kind‚ so many emotions‚ and without friends‚ I don’t think that I could be The Real Me.
When Rich was 3 years old‚ we were on a camping trip‚ and as we were sitting around camp‚ Rich looked around and said‚ ‘we need to go and meet our neighbors!’ And the rest of his life was like that. Everywhere he went he made friends.
In his early years Rich loved to build forts and go-carts‚ dig deep holes and do many other adventurous things. He and his friends developed a clever way to run wire between their houses to create an intercom system. Their creativity never ended. In later years they would move on to working on motorized vehicles. Rich with the help of his friends and the school automotive shop‚ rebuilt his ’69 Ford Mustang which he bought and financed by working and saving money. Other high performance parts where added as Rich developed an interest for racing.
Reading was a deep love of Rich’s‚ especially before drifting off to sleep. The family looked forward to listening to mom read a book during long vacation drives to help pass the time‚ and distract Rich from asking ‘are we there yet?’ He also cherished music and was taught of it’s ability to sooth and bring people together. Rich took piano lesson for seven years‚ played the saxophone through middle and high school‚ and was self teaching the guitar and loved to sing. Rich also took pleasure in getting dressed up in a suit and attending cultural events in downtown Portland with his family and friends.
Rich grew up watching and helping his dad and grandfather‚ who where always building or fixing things. Rich collecting baseball cards‚ assorted car parts and a few other items‚ but his aptitude and interest was in doing things. Rich started working in high school. One of his career highlights was helping to recover NASA space shuttle parts from the recovery project.
Rich would call home‚ on his cell phone‚ when working out of town and would talk of his hopes and dreams. His sights were set on Forest Service pursuits and education in this field.
Rich’s sights were set on Forest Service pursuits and education in this field. 2002 was Rich’s first fire season‚ he talked a lot about his work‚ what it was like and all the different experiences he encountered. But the most striking thing he said‚ was how the people in the town’s near by where they were working‚ would show their appreciation for the work the fire crews were doing‚ and how he felt that what he was doing was making a difference in other peoples lives. To all of you‚ we would like to convey are heartfelt appreciation for your caring spirit.
From the first time we held our tiny blue eyed baby boy‚ he began to brighten our lives‚ now we say goodbye to a young man‚ who has given us 21 years of joy‚ pride‚ laughter and most of all love‚ a pearl has grown in our hearts that we will have with us for the rest of our lives.
Submitted by his wife
Steve fell in love with the fire service at an early age. His favorite TV show was ‘Emergency!’ and he wanted to grow up to be just like Johnny and Roy. Steve completed paramedic school in 1988. He worked for a private ambulance company for several years. In November 1992 his lifelong dream was finally fulfilled. He was hired by the Novato Fire Protection District.
He is survived by his wife‚ Catherine. Catherine was a chemist with the US Department of Justice for 14 years. Because Steve had a financial plan‚ and also due to the generosity of the public‚ Catherine was able to leave her job to be home with the children. Steve and Catherine have two children‚ Kerstin and Wesley. Kerstin was born in 1996 and Wesley was born in 2001.
As eulogized by Fire Chief Jeffrey A. Meston‚ Novato Fire Protection District No one loved his job more than Steve Rucker‚ who by virtue of genetics and upbringing was destined to become a firefighter. Saving lives was a reflection of his love for his own family‚ his large extended family‚ and his community. He loved the paramedic calls‚ the adrenaline rush of firefighting‚ and seeing kids’ faces each year as he handed out the holiday toys he had collected. He bought a pickup truck just to make his toy drive rounds.
A family man‚ Steve was devoted to his wife‚ Catherine. ‘Anything I asked of him he did‚’ she said. Together‚ they put their children first; seven-year old Kerstin and two-year old Wesley. Their son’s middle name‚ Evan‚ was in memory of a 19-month old Novato boy who Steve had been unable to save after drowning. Naming their newborn Evan honored this child and kept alive his memory. No one was surprised.
At 38‚ Steve was one of the most popular guys in the Novato firehouses. He and Cathy and the children had just moved into a new home two blocks from Station No. 4. ‘He was the real deal‚’ said his older brother‚ Robert Rucker. ‘He was the last Boy Scout who never stopped doing the good deed.’
Steve is survived by his wife‚ Catherine‚ and their children Kerstin and Wesley; his parents‚ Darrell and Patricia Rucker of Fremont‚ CA; his brother Robert Rucker‚ of Santa Clarita‚ CA; two sisters‚ Starla Lincoln of Manteca‚ CA and Robin Reinders of Santa Clara‚ CA; two nieces; four nephews; two aunts and one uncle; his wife’s parents‚ Lester and Gloria Carlson of Novato; and his wife’s brother‚ Brent Carlson‚ also of Novato.
Steve’s life and death are reminders of the sacrifices made by the men and women who make up the kinship of the fire service. He lost his life on the wind-whipped California ridge (during the Cedar Fire in San Diego County). The men beside him very nearly lost theirs. Steve was one of our best. He is mourned by a nation.