Town, region honor Sam Evans
|An honor guard and procession of uniformed firefighters followed the Engine carrying the casket of 42-year veteran firefighter Sam Evans down Main Street on Friday evening. Pictured walking alongside the truck are, from left, Lancaster Fire Chief Randy Flynn, Firefighter David Flynn, and ret. Chief Mike Currier. Driving the Engine was Lt. Trevor Bates, accompanied by ret. Deputy Chief Lee Emery. On other side of the truck, not pictured, were ret. Deputy Chief Roger Emery, Jr., Capt. Dean Flynn, and firefighter Dana Flynn. (Photo by Jonathan Benton) (click for larger version)|
November 11, 2009LANCASTER — The town of Lancaster emptied into the streets on Friday night and stood in respectful awe as Sam Evans took his last fire engine ride from the Bailey Funeral home to the calling hours at the Lancaster Fire Department at dusk.
"Sam was very active in training and very active in fire suppression, he just did it all," said Lancaster Fire Chief Randy Flynn, "He also trained a lot of other departments, Jefferson, Groveton, Whitefield, Stark and even Stratford." Representatives of those same departments as well as others from further away were on hand Friday evening to escort Sam on his final ride.
"He was like a father, when my father passed away, " said Chief Flynn. "Sam and I were very close," he said,
Many firefighters throughout the region shared similar experiences and a similar paternal affinity for the veteran responder. Their regard was evidenced by the large number of firefighters who marched in the procession honoring Sam and the line of people that stretched out the Fire Station doors for the visiting hours.
According to Whitefield Fire Chief Jay Watkins, and many other firemen, Sam was a family man and that family was the fire department — a father figure that talked firm, but taught wisdom with a kind resolve. "He'd tell you one of these days you and he would go for a ride; a talk from dad as we would call it," said Chief Watkins.
"The biggest thing was that Sam didn't sugar coat anything. He'd let you know if you did something wrong, but taught you the correct way afterwards," Chief Watkins said.
Friday night's procession included the participation of dozens of current and past firemen and women from all over the North Country and even from far off as Concord — a good portion of which had at some time or another been instructed by Sam.
Back when Sam and many others were busy working at the paper mill in Groveton he still put the department first. "When he worked at the mill this is where he spent all his spare time," said Chief Flynn, "He wasn't looking for personal gain. He did for the town and gave for the town."
Sam put in over 42 years as a Lancaster firefighter and was even their chief from 1987 until1995, but ultimately settled down as the assistant fire chief until present. Sam wasn't one to simply be an instructor, he wanted to get is hands dirty.
"If there was a house on fire you couldn't keep him out," said Lancaster Assistant Fire Chief Dan King. "If the crap hit the fan and you were in a bad situation in a burning building he'd get you out of the mess."
When Northumberland Fire Chief Terry Bedell had just become the chief, Sam decided to take him on one of his famous drives.
"He said that I should 'listen to what everyone has to say and just do your best'," said Chief Bedell, "and his famous words were 'now, isn't that simple?'"
Saturday's funeral commenced with a somber ceremony and the mourning wail of bagpipes outside Christ United Methodist Church that could be heard from blocks away. Chief Gardiner said he shut down a single lane of traffic by the church so the music could be heard more clearly.
"I thought, 'they can wait,' " said Lancaster Police Chief John Gardiner.