People from across Henderson County came together as first responders honored one of their own.
Family and friends remembered Hilary Thompson as not just a firefighter, but a mentor and pillar of the community.
“We have 11 departments here represented today for his funeral. The fire department is a brotherhood. So all his brothers are coming to show their respect,” said Zion Assistant Fire Chief Melvin Fulkerson.
Escorted by a fleet of fire trucks, from across the county first responders gathered to remember the life of Hilary Thompson.
“He was just a really nice guy, warm heart, loved everybody,” Fulkerson remembered.
The 86 year old former chief and founding member of Niagara’s volunteer fire department died Tuesday.
Niagara’s current fire chief–and Thompson’s son-in-law–Knows all too well the loss in the community from his passing.
“At that time he was chief and I was a firefighter, and we just worked together for the betterment of the community,” recalled Chief Glenn Powell. “There’s more to the fire department than just fighting fires. There was the collecting of money. There was the selling of tickets. There was just going out in the community and doing great things knowing that there’s somebody out there for you if you are in need.”
But he’s being honored not just for his leadership with in his city, but his impact beyond his own station.
“When I was young, he was the assistant chief, so I looked up to him. Some of the training that he did, the experience that he would show us has groomed us into the fire service,” explained Fulkerson.
For his family, that his work with the fire department and with Henderson County schools is being remembered through the county:
“It’s overwhelming to a certain extent. He’s been kinda nonactive for the last few years with the fire department, and retired from the school system many years. It shows no matter how many years have passed, those relationships are still there,” said Powell.
While Thompson has been laid to rest, his legacy lives on in those he taught in Niagara and beyond.