Last week a well-respected retired battalion chief from my department passed. He had been struggling with various medical issues , and after visiting him over the last month I know he is now in a much better place. His nickname was “Boss Hawg”, as he sorta looked like the TV character, complete with a stogie implanted in the corner of his mouth. For a new firefighter assigned to his shift 29 years ago, he seemed larger than life. Today, he remains so.
His leaving made me reflect on who he was. It seems only fitting that we will be celebrating his life only a short few days before retiring.
I have no doubt his memorial service will be packed with people ready to celebrate a great life of community service, love and humor. He was the consummate firefighter, chief and storyteller. Never shying away of an open microphone at retirement functions or funerals, he often stepped up to tell a story (or six) about the person being honored. He had an amazing memory and storytelling style that often took listeners on an amusing and often long journey.
His memorial service will be packed with community members, retirees and current firefighters ready to remember and share a story or two of their own. While I suspect some of the stories will be related to his time on the job, Chief’s legacy is much richer and intricate. Rather, I think folks will spend considerable time talking about his ability to make people smile, and his love of of his wife Ellen, his family, gardening and community involvement.
Rest In Peace Chief Morse. Thanks for being a role model and leader. Our little world is a much better place because of you.