Friends remember former Vernon fire chief

VERNON, TX - Vernon firefighters and church members are remembering the late Charles Stewart, a man who dedicated more than four decades to the Vernon Fire Department and Emergency Services in Wilbarger County.

Vernon Fire Department Lieutenant Robin Ragan said he owes his career to Charles Stewart. 

He told us, "From the very beginning, it was all through him and through the department that I was able to get trained and he helped guide me and show me through the training and what I needed to do and I've been doing it ever since." 

Lt. Ragan is not alone in giving so much credit to Stewart, in his 42 years with the department, Stewart showed many firefighters the ropes.

"He would always show up to the fires," Lt. Ragan said. "Pretty much every fire we had, he was there. He would leave whatever he was doing to show up, to help and be an instant command" 

He was also a devoted volunteer for many community organizations, including his church. His minister said he had a wonderful way of showing compassion.

"One of the things I probably learned most from him was watching how he cared for people." Dave Winn was a youth minister at Wilbarger Street when he first met Stewart, Stewart was a deacon.  

Winn continued by saying, "He took the idea of loving God and other people as the two most important things and that became who he was."

That way of living was never lost, even after Stewart suffered a stroke in the Spring of 2011 and his health slowly started to decline. Now even after his death, his legacy will live on in the hearts of many. 

"The most memorable thing I remember about him was his concern for his firefighters, not only on duty but off duty as well," Lt. Ragan told us. 

Whether they needed advice about life or help at the department they knew they could always call on Stewart, which is why he will be sorely missed by so many.
 
Stewart also had a key role in implementing the Wichita- Wilbarger 9-1-1 District and following his retirement from the fire department. He served as Wilbarger County Emergency Management Coordinator for a couple of years. He's survived by his wife, two children, and three grandchildren.

Funeral services are Wednesday at 11 A.M, at the Wilbarger Street Church of Christ in Vernon.


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