I understand that there is nothing uncommon about people retiring from organizations, as people do it every day, but it is not common in our world today that people retire who have been with an organization since its inception.
Chief Roger Thornton was one of the first 6 firefighters hired when Southaven became a city in 1980 and had served for 6 years prior to that as a volunteer . He has held every position in the department at one time or another and became Chief in January, 2016. He is truly one of the founding fathers of our fire department and city.
It has been a privilege for me to work with Chief Thornton. I’ve admired his professionalism and attention to detail, but most of all, I’ve admired his unselfish commitment and dedication to the men and women in his department and our city, in general. I’ve told him that I will never forget his response when I asked him if he would accept the Chief position if offered to him in 2016. He told me that he would and would be honored since he had held every position in the department, except Chief. But, what I will never forget is what he said next. He told me that it is important for me to know that if we chose not to offer him the job that he would gladly continue to work in any capacity asked of him. This speaks perfectly of the kind of guy he is, but is just one example of the unselfish and loyal effort he has given to us during the last 43 years.
After learning of his plans to retire, I jokingly told him that he was not going to “coast” until his retirement, but that we were going to work him until his last day! I purposely scheduled more meetings with him to draw from his knowledge and make myself a better leader. He has always been quick to point out that the Southaven Fire Department became the outstanding and respected department it is today, not because of any one person, but instead because of many over the years that have lived the philosophy of “team first”. I know he’s right, but I also know that we will miss people like Roger Thornton.
Thank you Chief! We will miss you, but congratulate you and wish you all the best!