Today, we lost a good friend and a good man. Chief John Winn passed away this afternoon after a short but hard fought battle with Mesothelioma. In addition to being a beloved friend and Chief, he was one of us. He volunteered early in our program to be trained as a Peer Counselor to help the men and women of the Fire Department receive the counseling they needed to help them during difficult times. In addition, he worked hard to embrace all of the changes in the Charleston Fire Department in the last five years. He once told me that it was hard to accept some of the changes but he knew that overall they were important to the safety and well-being to all of his firefighters. He always led by example and many young men and women excelled in the Fire Service because of him. When others doubted the effects of a counseling program, John encouraged firefighters to seek help. He was personally responsible for getting scores of our firefighters into the counseling program and was a valued member of our Team.
Personally, he was a trusted friend always willing and ready to help anyone. Whether it was by phone or during a late night visit to Station 11, he would take the time to hear me out and offer his good solid advice. If he disagreed with you, you would know it but you always knew where he stood and that you could count on him regardless.
I was able to spend a good deal of time with him in the last three months as we worked on his “Big John” fire truck. Even though he was not always able to be there, we would look over the photos of the progress and enjoy them together. He wanted this truck to be used as a way to educate others about getting the necessary testing to find life-threatening illnesses and we pledged to him that we would carry out his wishes. So, with a renewed commitment, we will complete this truck and begin the mission of taking John’s hopes and wishes to others.
To Debbie, J.J. and John’s entire family, we offer our most sincere sympathy.
Rest in peace, Brother, until we meet again.