Newton County Fire Service Battalion Chief Terry Davenport asked his fellow firefighters to join him as his final shift ended Thursday, a way to say goodbye to those around him and his career of over 30 years.
Instead he got a phone call from Newton County Fire Service Chief Kevin O’Brien to come meet him in his office.
When he arrived at NCFS headquarters, a celebration was awaiting Davenport with O’Brien and a slew of others there to award parting gifts and Newton County Chairman Keith Ellis to name May 29, 2014 Chief Terry Davenport day.
The decorative axe, photos, proclamations and plaques weren’t the biggest part of the celebration for Davenport, but rather the people were. The people are what filled the memories of his 32 years as a Newton County firefighter.
“It’s been the people here; they’ve been the whole key,” Davenport said. “I’ve enjoyed being around every one of them. They’re just like my brothers. They made my life better over the last 16 years.”
Davenport has been with the Newton County Fire Service since March 19, 1998, and before that was a volunteer for 16 years. For Davenport, it all started at the north end of the county at Station 8.
Since then he’s been a big presence with the fire service, as both a firefighter and a leader.
“Terry’s been great,” O’Brien said. “You will not find a more solid person than Terry Davenport. He always has a smile on his face. Even when he was down, he always gave 110 percent all the time, whether he wanted to or not he knew he always had to get the job done.
“He’s probably one of the most sincere, humble, straight and honest guys you’ll ever meet in your life.”
Those traits are what led O’Brien to start the Terry Davenport leadership award, which will be given out for the first time this December to the firefighter who “best demonstrates the same leadership traits and characteristics as Terry.”
O’Brien felt that was the best way to keep Davenport’s legacy going, since he couldn’t think of any way to replace him.
“He’s irreplaceable,” O’Brien said. “We’ll never be able to replace him; we’ll fill his position but never be able to replace him. It won’t happen.”