Nashville District Fire Chief Bobby Connelly wrapped up his 53-year career at the department Thursday with one last fire and one more life saved.
Things have changed a lot since he first put on his helmet and gear in 1959. Connelly just needed a job, but he instead found a way of life.
"'Wow' or the word 'awesome' would be the way to explain it," Connelly said.
The district chief helped extinguish his last fire Thursday, covered in soot.
That's been the norm for 53 years on the job, during which time he's had walls collapse on him and lost his mother in a nursing home fire in 2003.
However, he's also had the satisfaction of saving countless lives. Thursday, he rescued a trapped dog.
"When the fire service started out, Benjamin Franklin said it was to save lives and property, and that hasn't changed," Connelly said.
But the 75-year-old has seen some changes for the better.
"With all the hydraulic tools, you can get someone out of the car in a minute, where it took 30 minutes to an hour," he said.
Years of sacrifice show on his helmet, and just ask any of his colleagues who would tell you Connelly is a fearless legend. But, for him, the credit all goes to his fellow firefighters for giving him his best memories.
"A lot of people say 'extended family,' but they are my immediate family," Connelly said. "If one's had good luck, we've all had good luck. And you can't buy and sell that. And you don't get that in just a regular job."
Connelly already has a plan when he misses that next fire call.
"I may get a job with one of the TV stations and carry the camera for them," he said, laughing.
Another footnote to history: Connelly is the last remaining active duty firefighter among those who responded to the fire that destroyed the Maxwell House Hotel in downtown Nashville on Christmas Day in 1961.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Wednesday, April 16 2014 2:06 PM EDT2014-04-16 18:06:48 GMT
An ailing Miley Cyrus has canceled her concert Tuesday night at Sprint Center.The notice came a matter of hours before she was scheduled to go on stage.A concert promoter tells KCTV5 that Cyrus is in theMore >>
An ailing Miley Cyrus remains in a Kansas City hospital and says she must cancel her St. Louis concert slated for Wednesday night. This comes after she unexpectedly canceled her Tuesday night concert in Kansas City. More >>
Tuesday, April 15 2014 6:32 PM EDT2014-04-15 22:32:39 GMT
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Male High School student took her life shortly after posting a video online. The video remained online for a lot of the day Tuesday, even though the school system, law enforcementMore >>
A Male High School student took her life shortly after posting a video online. Unfortunately, teenage suicides are more common than you might think. Seven Counties Services, a behavioral health agency, said there were three times more suicides than homicides in Louisville in 2012 and Kentucky ranks number two in teenage suicide.More >>
Monday, April 14 2014 9:37 PM EDT2014-04-15 01:37:12 GMT
Sanitation workers in Dickson County made a shocking discovery Friday when they found an injured puppy in a landfill. Officials believe the dog was intentionally thrown away. "Anybody would've done theMore >>
Sanitation workers in Dickson County made a shocking discovery Friday when they found an injured puppy in a landfill. Officials believe the dog was intentionally thrown away.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 2:55 PM EDT2014-04-16 18:55:56 GMT
Traffic is completely stopped in Henderson due to an overturned semi. A semi has overturned on the U.S. 41 North strip near Long John Silver's. Officials were called to the scene around 3:15 WednesdayMore >>
It happened on the U.S. 41 North strip near Long John Silver's. Officials were called to the scene around 3:15 Wednesday morning.
Saturday, April 12 2014 6:07 AM EDT2014-04-12 10:07:09 GMT
An incredible photo snapped Saturday at the iconic Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore is going viral. A mother humpback whale and her calf were cruising just offshore when a set rolled in. J.T. Gray of NorthMore >>
An incredible photo snapped Saturday at the iconic Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore is going viral.More >>
Tuesday, April 15 2014 6:28 AM EDT2014-04-15 10:28:24 GMT
ESTILL COUNTY, KY (WAVE) – After losing both his parents in a short amount of time, a community is rallying around an Estill County teen. Joe Snowden lost his mother in a car crash on April 10, just twoMore >>
Joe Snowden lost his mother in a car crash on April 10, just two weeks after laying his father to rest. Now Snowden is faced with covering all the funeral costs himself. More >>
1115 Mt. Auburn Road
Evansville, IN 47720