FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A veteran Darlington firefighter with 62 years of service was laid to rest Tuesday with full honors.
The city of Darlington announced Monday that Earle B. Wilson Jr., passed away last Friday at the age of 90.
Friends and family gathered at the Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home Chapel to say their goodbyes. The Darlington Fire Department went above and beyond to give the cherished long-time firefighter the funeral he deserved.
"It's a sad day here for us," fire chief Patrick Cavanaugh said. "It's like losing your father or best friend in the fire service. All the guys here take pride in what we do, men and women both. Their job is come in here and make sure he gets sent off with the best thing we can send him off with 'cause we want to honor him and we want to honor everything he's done for us."
Wilson's son, Charles Wilson, said his father was a charismatic man, adored by many in the community.
"He was a kind and passionate man. He never met a stranger," Charles Wilson said. "He never went somewhere without a smile on his face. If you were in need he was there to help."
Wilson was born and raised in Darlington. In his early years, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, he returned home.
Following in his father's footsteps - former fire captain Earle Wilson Sr. - Wilson dedicated most of his life to the fire and rescue department. He died when his own business caught on fire.
"Earle B. was a vital part of this place. There's not a person here that he has not touched personally. He's been around for everything," Cavanaugh said.
It's that commitment, Charles Wilson said, that people in Darlington will never forget.
"I think he's just going to be remembered as a great person for this community. He's just going to be missed. There's a big void that's been created now," he said.
After the funeral, the fire department rode Wilson's casket on a fire truck to Grove Hill Cemetery, where he was buried next to his wife of 50 years, Sara Wilson.