Fayetteville, North Carolina Assistant Fire Chief Collapses On The Job

Chelsey whined for about a half hour Wednesday night when Pappy Boles didn't show up for his shift at the Cumberland Road Fire Department.

Firefighters said it was almost as if the Dalmatian knew that Boles, the department's assistant chief, wouldn't be coming back to work.

Joseph Edward ''Pappy'' Boles died Tuesday of a heart attack at the Westarea Fire Department, where he worked part time. He was 57.

Cumberland Road firefighters described Boles as a good-hearted man who loved his family, fighting fires, golf, children and Chelsey.

They say he spoiled the dog rotten with hamburgers from Burger King and shrimp from Bruce & Mickey's restaurant. Burger King workers would throw in an extra hamburger because they knew Boles would feed it to the Dalmatian, firefighters said.

Chelsey came as a gift about a dozen years ago from a military family that was moving. Firefighters voted to take in the puppy, and, from the beginning, Boles was her master.

Firefighters said Chelsey knew whenever Boles pulled up in his little blue truck. Fire Chief Ken Hall said the dog would light up at the sight of him.

''She knew that he was the one that was going to look after her,'' Hall said.

Firefighters spent Thursday washing and waxing fire trucks for today's funeral, which begins at 11 a.m. at Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home.

Hall said Boles' wife, Brenda, requested that Chelsey be part of the funeral procession. Firefighters were figuring out Thursday how to let the dog ride alongside Boles' coffin on top of the firetruck.

Boles had worked with the Cumberland Road Fire Department since 1990, making his way up the ranks to become assistant chief in May 2000. He retired from the Air Force in 1991 as a senior master sergeant, a career that spanned 27 years.

Boles' stepson, Bill Thompson, said his stepfather became a founding member of the Air Force's Special Operations Command.

He said Boles served three tours in Vietnam, as a door gunner and as a flight engineer on search and rescue missions.

He said his stepfather was a humble man who didn't like to talk about the medals he earned in the service.

''He's like what we call in special operations a quiet professional,'' Thompson said.

Boles' firefighting peers elected him officer of the year this year and three previous times. He was named firefighter of the year once.

Dawn Gale, an emergency medical technician, said everyone loved and respected Boles, an easy-going man who never raised his voice unless he got behind the wheel of his pickup or a firetruck.

When that happened, Gale said, look out. Boles tended to stick his head out the window and yell at anyone who got in his way.

Thompson said his stepfather got the nickname Pappy shortly after becoming a firefighter because he was much older than the other firefighters. Before long, Thompson said, a lot of people couldn't remember that his real name was Joe.

The moniker, firefighters said, suited Boles perfectly.

''He was like everyone's dad,'' Gale said.

''He was a great, great person,'' added Natalie Goins, another emergency medical technician. ''No matter what you needed, he'd help you.''

As the firefighters gathered around to talk about their fallen comrade, Chelsey lay under her chair.

Gale tried to entice her out. ''Want a treat?'' she cooed. ''Want some shrimp?''

Normally, Gale said, the Dalmatian would bound right up to her. Not this time. Firefighters said it's as if Chelsey knows that her master won't be coming back. ''It's one of those things that's just sad, you know?'' Hall said.

Courtesy of Fayetteville Observer

The funeral will be conducted at 11 a.m. Friday in Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home chapel by the Rev. Keith Rhudy. Burial will be in Cumberland Memorial Gardens.