Saying goodbyePublished 9:49pm Saturday, April 20, 2013
A radio squeaked and the voice of a dispatcher broke the silence as a crowd of mourners gathered around the gravesite of retired Assistant Fire Chief Mike Staples Saturday afternoon.
“Station 2 to F-2, this is your last call,” the voice said. “There is no response from F-2. On behalf of the Atmore Fire Department, it is with deep sadness and sorrow to report that after 31 years, Mike Staples has completed his last and final call. He has returned home to be with the Lord. He will forever be in our hearts.”
Sobs accompanied the sounds of a rescue chopper overhead as if flew over the cemetery in honor of the 31-year fire department veteran who passed away suddenly last week at the age of 51.
“I was real close with Chief Staples,” Atmore firefighter Daniel White said. “He was one of the best guys you could ever meet. It’s tough.”
“Tuesday, April 16, hours after Staples’ death was announced by officials at Atmore Community Hospital, Fire Chief Gerry McGhee said he would miss the man he promoted up through the ranks to assistant chief.
“He’ll be well missed,” McGhee said. “I promoted him from firefighter to captain and from captain to assistant chief,” McGhee said. “Me and him were real close.”
Staples 31-year career with Atmore began at age 17 as a volunteer firefighter.
Staples passed away after becoming sick while doing work at a local apartment complex. He was laid to rest Saturday following a funeral ceremony at Grace Fellowship.
He is survived by his wife, Hayley; his mother, Janie; his three sons, Jonathon, Dleron and Malcolm; a foster son, Tony; and brothers, Edwin, Larry and Kenneth.
Staples was laid to rest at Stallworth Cemetery. He was buried with full honors.