Forestry Aide I James W. White, age 38, of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry died on February 19, 1992, from complications of a stroke that he suffered while on duty at the Waldens Ridge Firetower.
Fire Chief Ronald Gene Spitzer, age 65, of the Rocky Top Fire Department died from to complications of COVID-19 on January 13, 2021.
Firefighter Ronald Steven “Steve” Perry, age 57, of the East Sullivan County Volunteer Fire Department died on December 17, 2020, from complications of COVID-19.
Firefighter John H. Clift Jr., age 64, of the Rural Metro Fire Department died on January 2, 2021 due to complications of COVID-19.
Terry Lee Watts was born August 23, 1969. He graduated from Northside High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in fire science from Waldorf University. Watts began his career in firefighting as a reserve in Arlington Fire Department. He served at various fire departments, including Horne Lake Fire Department, where he served part-time, and Jackson Fire Department, before joining the Shelby County Fire Department in 2006. During his career with Shelby County, he obtained Instructor I, Fire Officer I-IV, and several other certifications. He served as NAFI member, HAZMAT technician, advanced emergency medical technician, vice president and grievance chairperson for IAFF Local 2585. He also served as code enforcement, deputy chief, and fire chief in Mason, Tennessee. Watts was employed part-time with Eagle Medical Center and Methodist University Hospital.
In addition to his love for firefighting, Terry Watts enjoyed spending time with his family, martial arts, and music, and he always endeavored to remain true to family values of the highest order. Terry Watts was the proud husband of Gwenise Watts, with whom he shared 21 beautiful years of marriage. He was the proud father of four children and the doting grandfather of six grandchildren. He leaves behind an indelible legacy and probity in public life, compassion and loyalty in private life, and diligence and dedication in all his chosen endeavors. It is fitting that we should remember the bountiful life of this exceptional public servant and human being.
Firefighter Johnson Van Tien, of the Nashville Fire Department, died on June 28, 1933 from injuries sustained in a fire truck accident while responding to a call.
Steward Gandy passed away while fighting a house fire on May 6th, 1979.
Gandy, a member of the Collegedale, TN Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department, was killed after he and other firefighters responded to a blaze at a small frame home on Woodland Drive in Summit around 11:30pm. Firefighters were searching for occupants inside the home when Gandy was heard calling for help. Due to the intense conditions, it took some time to find the distressed firefighter and he was transported by ambulance to Erlanger Medical Center and pronounced dead on arrival.
Steward was a 1977 graduate of Ooltewah High School and was an employee of the Electro-Lite Battery Co.
“Stu” as he was known to his friends, had been a member of the department for less than a year and had not yet completed his rookie training. He was known for being one of the best natured firemen in the department and for helping out with whatever needed to be done.
Robert Clyde Stanford, a 24 year-old pre-dental student at Southern Missionary College, died April 15 while answering an alarm with the Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department to save a burning store and service station in Summit on Lee Highway. Stanford, an experienced electrician, was cutting high tension wires so that the other firemen could fight the blaze when he was electrocuted.
Memorial services were held on the school campus in Collegedale, TN on April 16, 1953. Funeral services were held the following day at the Salem Baptist Church near Tifton, GA. The Collegedale based Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department firefighters were pallbearers.
Bob was born and reared in Omega, GA, where he also received his high school education. Following his graduation, as valedictorian, from the Omega High School he served for four years in the U.S. Navy as a radar technician. After his release from the service, he worked in the ship yards in Jacksonville, Florida, as an electronic radar and sonar engineer. Bob married Betty Ruth Frazier on February 11, 1951. They moved to Collegedale and he enrolled as a pre-dental student in September of 1952. He worked in the college maintenance department as an electrician while attending classes. Bob and Betty had a son, Michael Terry, born November 29, 1952.
In the minds of his friends there will always remain a picture of Bob’s cheerfulness under all circumstances, his faithfulness in whatever he did, and the supreme unselfishness of his life.
Jason Byrd lost his life while fighting a structure fire on February 18, 2019. He had just taken equipment up the ladder when he collapsed. His brothers and sisters in service immediately began life saving measures, while continuing fireground operations. The home was saved but unfortunately, he did not survive.
He started with the Hickory Withe Volunteer Fire Department in 2000. Over 19 years, he was promoted to lieutenant, captain, and eventually chief. He worked full-time at the local electric company as a network engineer and was respected by his peers. His family was his top priority, but his job as fire chief was his passion. He loved helping in the schools, teaching children not to be afraid of firefighters, changing out smoke detectors for people who needed help, and raising money for MDA Fill the Boot.
He was born in Memphis on August 27, 1976, to Patricia Yager and Johnny Byrd. His uncle and grandfather were in the fire service, and he was fascinated about helping his community. At age 14, he was involved in a serious ATV accident, which ignited his passion to give back to the community that helped rescue him. He graduated from Fayette Ware High School in 1994 and from Christian Brothers University with an electrical engineering degree.
He was an amazing husband to Jamie and an even better father to his children, Shelby and Jackson. Jamie and Jason had many years together in the fire service making memories and enjoying time with their fire family, a family like no other. The department was a family with him at the head of the table. This group was there for each other for weddings, funerals, and everything in between, and they continue to take care of each other and his family. Jason’s hobbies included boating, hunting, riding ATVs, tailgating, and spending time with friends and family.
It speaks volumes to Jason’s character that he worked full-time, completed the tasks of the volunteer fire chief, and helped anyone in need. He was selfless, caring, funny, and genius in many aspects. He is survived by his wife, Jamie Gray Byrd; his children, Shelby and Jackson Byrd; his mother, Patricia Yager Hale (Bruce); his father, Johnny Byrd (Bonnie Spears); and his sister, Jessica White (Marcus). He will always be missed by his family, his fire family, and countless other lives he touched. One thing everyone noticed was his incredible smile. It conveyed his character without him speaking a word—honest, kind, loving, and always ready to help his fellow man.
Martiniano R. Lerma died on Oct. 15, 1977. He was married with five children.