Community Mourns Fire Chief Larry Rogers - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/14/04

Community Mourns Fire Chief Larry Rogers

Chief Larry Rogers Chief Larry Rogers

An era has ended in Evans County. A public servant for more than a quarter century, Claxton fire chief Larry Rogers died last night in a one-vehicle accident, possibly suffering a heart attack at the wheel. The people who served with him say Rogers was the consummate professional who cared about his hometown.

"He had been to his third fire call of the day, gone home to change clothes and was coming back to the office for paperwork when something medical happened and he went off the road," said Mayor Luther Royal.

He'd complained of chest pains earlier that morning.

His devotion to duty found on emergency scenes day after day. Firefighters say he ran the pumper on two calls Monday. "Larry was a hands-on chief," said Harold Rogers, the assistant chief. "He didn't stand back with his hands in his pockets. He was a hands-on guy. He worked right along with us."

You could often find him at fires beyond his city. He helped organize a fire council of Claxton and the other cities in Evans County.

A wreath hangs on the fire station door as a city mourns again. The flags at Claxton City Hall hang at half staff for the second time in seven months. In May, the mayor of 32 years passed away. Now the chief of 23 years is gone.

"Larry said when he started, he drove a 1956 Ford with a 500 gallon pumper," firefighter Robbie Jernigan told us. "In the last four to five years, with SPLOST money, he's built the fire department and the county into top rate."

Friends and coworkers say they may find someone to fill the position, but no one will ever replace the chief.

Visitation starts at 6pm on Wednesday at J. Mellie Nesmith Funeral Home in Claxton. Funeral services will be held at First United Methodist Church in Claxton at 2pm Thursday.

That 1956 Ford will carry the casket to the church and then to the cemetery.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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