Carriere fire chief honored by community, firemen

Published 1:25 pm Friday, June 17, 2011

Carriere fire chief honored by community, firemen

By DAVID A. FARRELL/Item Staff Writer

The Pearl River County community — including friends, loved ones, fellow firefighters and emergency personnel — honored and said good-bye to Carriere Volunteer Fire Department Chief Thomas Frank Wagner in funeral services here on Thursday, some with choked voices, telling what Wagner had done to influence their lives.

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They honored, through ceremonies and first-person accounts, a fallen first-responder, who had dedicated his life to helping others and serving his community.

“You just can’t say what all Chief Wagner did because he helped so many people here. He had a deep impact on Pearl River County and its citizens. He taught us all how to live and what to do with our lives, to serve others; so we owe him, not only for his direct service to the community, but for the impact he made on individual lives,” said Emergency Operations Center Director Danny Manley.

“In the fire and emergency services, he impacted hundreds of lives,” added Manley. “He was truly a great guy, and exhibited the kind of character which we all aspire to.”

Others also praised him, such as Friends of Boley member John Huck and County Coroner Derek Turnage.

Said Huck: “He was always willing to help and very knowledgeable about how to go about getting things done and accomplished.”

Said Turnage: “His death is a great loss for our community and for all of Pearl River County.”

Besides being Carriere’s fire chief, Wagner was also operations chief for the EOC.

Funeral services for Chief Wagner, 56, were held on Thursday, and included a solemn ceremony at McDonald Funeral Home, entitled the “Fireman’s Last Call.”

Firefighters and law enforcement officials then gave Wagner perhaps one of the highest salutes by joining a procession from McDonald Funeral Home, where services were held, to the Carriere fire department where more ceremonies honoring Wagner and his immediate family for his and their service to the community were held.

Wagner was praised by fellow firefighters as a leader and a person who took a genuine interest in other people and what they wanted.

Friends, family and fellow firefighters mourned his death and said he loved his community and sacrificed greatly to serve it.

A family spokesperson said that Chief Wagner died on Monday at his home in The Woods subdivision in Picayune, surrounded by his family. He died “peacefully,” said the spokesperson. Wagner had fought a brave struggle against cancer.

Firefighters from all of Pearl River County’s 12 volunteer departments and the two city departments of Poplarville and Picayune attended the funeral and participated in the funeral and the procession with fire trucks, as did emergency personnel from other parts of Mississippi and from other states, who knew Wagner.

Picayune firemen paid tribute to him by forming an arch with ladder trucks flanking U.S. Highway 11 at the North Hill entrance, topped with an American flag, under which the procession passed, headed north to the Carriere fire station at about 1 p.m.

Wagner was widely known, well-liked and respected throughout the ranks of the profession.

His son, Scott, is a Pearl River County deputy sheriff.

Wagner had served as Carriere’s fire chief since 1997.

Deacon Doug McNair of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church officiated at the funeral services.

Wagner was a native of Summit. He was a graduate of McComb High School and the University of Southern Mississippi where he earned bachelor and masters degrees.

He and his wife, the former Mary Lanice Logue, had been married 34 years, and they met at Ole Miss where he proposed to her in The Grove.

Wagner was an avid outdoorsman, his friends said.

Besides his dedication to the emergency services, officials and family said he was also dedicated to the Friends of Boley and the Boy Scouts. He was raised in Troop 143 in Summit by his father and grandfather and devoted much time to Troop 2 in Picayune. He was honored by the Pine Burr Area Boy Scout Council for his dedication to, and work with, the Scouts.

He worked 30 years in the safety and emergency response field with Shell Oil Co.

The American flag in front of the Carriere fire department has flown at half-mast all week in honor of Chief Wagner.

Services were held on Thursday at 11 a.m. at McDonald Funeral Home in Picayune.

He was also a member of Picayune’s St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.