Livingston, TX -- Benjamin Franklin said, "Since you are not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour."
Shepherd Fire Chief Lonnie Nicklas left this earth much too soon when he was taken by a heart attack last Thursday morning at the age of 39. Although his time was too short, it will never be said that it was wasted. Nicklas and his wife Cindy shared a passion for firefighting and for volunteering.
The time most couples would put into selfish pursuits was spent helping others and making the community a safer place to live.
By all accounts, Nicklas was good at whatever he chose to do. He was reportedly not just a top notch firefighter, but he was also a skilled carpenter and had been working on the family home which remains unfinished. However, from the reactions to the news of his death, it is evident that Nicklas was most successful at being a friend.
"He wasn't just a true firefighter, he was a friend and a major asset to this community. Firefighters have the job of taking care of people in the county, but the fire chief has the job of taking care of those people and also the firefighters. "He was a fireman. He didn't do it because he got paid. It's what he loved to do." -Assistant Fire Chief Roy Pippin
"Lonnie was always there for you when you needed him. It didn't matter what time of the day or night it was. He and his wife have given so much to this department." -Nina Dwy, fellow volunteer and friend
"Lonnie was the most dedicated volunteer that our community has ever had. He was not just a great volunteer, but a friend to everybody." -Donnie Marrs, friend and fellow firefighter
"I had known Lonnie for seven years. I remember when he first came in and said he wanted to join the department. I didn't know what to think of him at first, but seven years later he was our chief! We are pretty much a tight-knit family here, and Lonnie was more of a brother to me than my own brother. Lonnie gave 110 percent all the time. "He was the kind of man who would always buy groceries for someone but would never talk about doing it. He and his wife gave a tremendous amount of time to this job, taking haz-mat courses and certification classes whenever they were needed." -Chuck Thomas, certifying and training coordinator
"He was a good friend and an excellent Chief. Lonnie took over the Shepherd VFD several years ago. He gave the members and the department direction and supported safety as a first priority. He attended many training events to better himself and others. He is a tireless person with good beliefs and goals. He turned a ragged, low morale department into one of the best in this county. He made many improvements to the department. He drafted their SOPs and was in the process of updating them when he passed away. He has been active in the community for many years and has gone out of his way to assist anyone in need. I will miss him greatly, both as a friend and as a professional acting firefighter. A big void has been left not only in his family, but likewise in the City of Shepherd and San Jacinto County." -Pct. 3 County Commissioner David Brandon
On Monday, February 27, firefighters, family members, and friends from all over southeast Texas traveled to Livingston to bid farewell to Chief Lonnie Nicklas.