Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Loss of a True Fire Service Icon

WEST COLUMBIA - Richard Toal Mincey, 78, passed away at Dorn VA Medical Center on Thursday evening, December 30, 2010. He fought a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases but lived a quality life at home through the love and care of his devoted wife of 55 years, Patricia Ann Ferguson Mincey, whom he affectionately called,'TrishAnn.'

Richard was born May 6, 1932, in Winnsboro, SC, to the late Julian Wade and Nellie Burckhalter Mincey. He dropped out of school in the seventh grade and a few years later joined the National Guard in May 1948. He transferred to the US Air Force and saw duty in Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and Korea as part of the Fire Crash and Rescue Squad. He was stationed at numerous bases stateside including Alaska and retired in 1968 after 20 years of military service.

While in the service, he earned his GED and a year of college credit. Using the GI bill, he pursued a college education, graduating from USC-Union with an Associate in Arts degree, and from Limestone College in Gaffney, SC, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education.

Richard was employed as an instructor for the SC Fire Academy during the 1970's and often traveled the State teaching firefighting technology to both career and volunteer fire departments. His passion for improved fire and life safety standards captured the attention of the SC State Firefighters' Association in 1980 when that organization hired him as their first full-time lobbyist. He was instrumental in getting the doors of the State House to swing outward to meet fire codes. He retired from this position in 1994.

Governor Carroll Campbell awarded Richard the Order of the Palmetto, and the SC General Assembly passed a resolution in his honor. Richard was inducted into the SC Firefighters' Hall of Fame, and the board room at the South Carolina State Firefighters' Association building is named the "Richard T. Mincey Board Room".

Richard was truly a leader in every sense in his life. He inspired many of us in our careers and our lives and was truly an icon in the Fire Service. His influence will continue to be felt for years to come.  

I once heard a pastor end a funeral service with these words and I believe they are appropriate today. "Rest in Peace, Brother, you have done well".

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