Someone a bit smarter than me once said, “Every story has an end, but every end is really just the start of a new beginning.” That quote came to mind recently as we get ready to celebrate the career of Fire Chief Ronnie Tucker at his retirement ceremony at the end of August. The Chief has been part of Prosper for over 25 years, as a volunteer, part-time and full-time Chief. Obviously, he leaves very large shoes to fill.
In spite of that quarter century of service to Prosper, which would normally be a full career for anyone else, Chief Tucker can point to his start in the fire service as a volunteer with the Allen Fire Department in late 1975. After a few years there, he went into full-time service in Richardson in 1978. So, for the last 42 years, Ronnie Tucker has been fighting fires and saving lives.
I know a little about what that’s like, since I served as a volunteer fire fighter in Frisco some years ago. As the saying goes, though, Chief Tucker has already forgotten more than I ever knew about the fire service. I can’t pretend to know even a small fraction of what Chief Tucker has experienced, but I can tell you that there is nothing quite like fighting fires and saving lives. The sudden rush of adrenaline coursing through your veins as you arrive at a fire, the fiercely searing heat of a building in full bloom, and the uncommonly selfless courage of the men and women who willingly run into a flaming inferno to save a life are things that cannot be described. And, yet, we see these tremendous people every day, in uniform and out. We see them at church or a ball game, buying groceries with their families, attending PTA meetings, and working in their yards. Except for the unflinching dedication to helping others that they hold deep within their hearts, they’re just like you and me.
Except maybe Ronnie Tucker. A man of deep humility and a true representation of servant leadership, Ronnie can sometimes surprise those who take him lightly. I remember when it happened to me.
In 2007, I was a newly-elected Council member in Prosper, having served in a similar capacity in Frisco. During my first budget work session, Chief Tucker appeared before the Council and asked for a new fire truck. I promptly informed him that in Frisco, where I had served on Council, Fire Chief Mack Borchardt would give each Council member a personalized baseball cap with our names and titles embroidered on the sides. Some caps had the Frisco Fire Department logo on the front others had a picture of the fire truck he was requesting on the front. After a short break, we returned to the session and Ronnie had taken a red plastic fire hat they give kids during tours and had written my name on both sides with a marker. We all had a good laugh.
And, while the story of Ronnie Tucker the Fire Chief ends, a new beginning for him and Janie starts, and we wish him all the very best.