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Area firefighters heap praise on the late Johnny Matthews, Fairmont Rural Fire Department founder and chief

FAIRMONT — A constitution member of the Fairmont Rural Fireplace Department is staying remembered for his endeavours in excess of additional than 60 many years to aid the department proceed strengthening.

A graveside memorial support was held Sunday at Floyd Memorial Cemetery in Fairmont for 82-calendar year-aged Johnny Coleman Matthews, who assisted discovered the rural fire section in 1958 and at one particular time served as its fire main. Matthews also served on the department’s board of administrators until eventually his dying.

Matthews died Dec. 23 at UNC Overall health Southeastern. Colleagues, buddies and family members members are remembering him as a challenging worker, devoted fireman and general public servant.

Robeson County Commissioner Tom Taylor, Allenton Volunteer Hearth Department’s main, explained he understood Matthews for about 30 several years and understood him as a passionate and giving individual, particularly when it related to the hearth office.

“He just — he cherished the hearth department,” Taylor reported. “He lived and breathed that hearth office.”

Associates of Fairmont Rural Hearth Department and other departments attended Sunday’s memorial assistance to shell out respect to Matthews’ provider to the Fairmont group. Current have been Fairmont Town, Orrum, Whitehouse, Smyrna, Raynham, Pembroke Town, Raft Swamp, Rowland and Cumberland County-based mostly Bethany fire departments, in accordance to South Robeson Rescue Unit Main Brandon Stone. The Rescue device also was existing.

“He experienced a lot of folks out there …,” stated Jerry Callahan, who also attended the service.

Callahan said he was “surprised and pleased” with the turnout in honor of his close friend of about 48 yrs.

Matthews “talked” him into joining the Fairmont Rural Fireplace Division in 1976, Callahan reported. Support with each other developed into a longtime friendship.

“He’s just a great male,” Callahan reported.

And he will be missed by his good friends and colleagues.

“Johnny will be missed as my first fire main, and my close friend, along with all the other rookies he saved. He will usually be honored by his local community and his brother firefighters,” stated Important McKee, deputy commander and vice president of South Robeson Rescue Device.

McKee joined the division in 1983 at the age of 19, and remembers a time the place Matthews saved his lifestyle while he responded to his first property fireplace get in touch with. McKee was applying a hose to battle the fireplace when it happened.

“As I moved around the home to uncover additional hearth, I was quickly jerked backwards and was sat-down difficult in the mud. In advance of I could convert about and see what brought on it Johnny aimed my eyes toward the scorching energy line on the ground in front of me and explained ‘Don’t get killed in a hearth or I’ll kick you off the division,’” McKee mentioned in a composed statement.

“My satisfaction was long gone, but that was the initial time someone had saved my lifetime. I owe Johnny Matthews for everything I became immediately after that minute,” McKee’s assertion also reads in aspect.

Matthews also manufactured an effect as he still left frontline firefighting driving and ongoing to serve on the Fairmont Rural Hearth Department board of directors.

“He cared about some others, loads of moments ahead of himself. He was often the serene a single in meetings and brought folks collectively. The full department seemed up to him. He will certainly be skipped,” said Brandon Stone, who served on the board with Matthews for about two years.

His care prolonged to other people, specially customers of his relatives, mentioned Matthews’ son-in-law Brad Lawson, who is president of the South Robeson Rescue Unit.

Lawson explained Matthews as a really hard employee, folks-person and family members gentleman.

“Johnny had several irons in the fire, so to converse, but was generally a supplier for his spouse, Jean, and daughters Lisa and Lynn. Very little arrived just before his spouse and children,” Lawson mentioned.

And Matthews appreciated paying time out on the h2o at Holden Seashore, fishing and boating with his loved ones, he stated.

“Johnny gave me lots of life classes in the quick pretty much 11 a long time that I was in his relatives …,” Lawson stated.

“He designed guaranteed that I knew that he beloved me and appreciated that I was here to go on having treatment of his loved ones. I will in no way overlook this gentleman and I will normally continue currently being the gentleman he served me to become,” Lawson mentioned.

Matthews retired soon after a lot more than 40 yrs with Ed F. Hodges Gas Organization, Lawson said.

The Cumberland County indigenous was born Dec. 12, 1938 to the late James Brennan Matthews and Inez Coleman Matthews. He leaves powering his spouse of 58 years, Jean Snipes Matthews two daughters, Lisa Anne Matthews and Lynn Matthews-Lawson two sisters, Barbara Smith and Patsy Bullock and grandson Brady Lawson.

The South Robeson Rescue Device issued a statement on Saturday.

“Our views and prayers are with his spouse and children and lots of mates. Main, you relaxation. We will choose it from here,” the assertion reads in part.