A community and fire station are in mourning after a 45-year veteran of the Marion Fire Department died less than 24 hours after battling a fire Tuesday.
Officials say firefighter Thomas Nye, 72, helped extinguish a chimney fire on Point Road shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday and then returned to his Massachusetts home. He suffered what is believed to be a cardiac incident and collapsed early Wednesday morning.
He was transported to Tobey Hospital in Wareham where he was pronounced dead.
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Chief Brian Jackvony said the very same firefighters that worked with Nye at the chimney fire were the ones to respond to his house Wednesday for a man down.
Nye lived less than two minutes away from the fire station, and his nephew Christopher says he always gave his heart and soul.
"He was here at six o clock at night, at two o clock in the morning. He was always the first guy in the engine, start it up, wait for us to get here," said Nye's nephew, who serves as a captain on the department.
Nye, who was set to head to Florida with his wife on Thursday for a couple of months, had served as a call firefighter since his appointment on Jan. 14, 1974.
"Firefighter Nye was a proud firefighter who served our community with distinction. We are a call fire department, and Firefighter Nye anchored our Station 2 during the day. While many of our younger firefighters are working their private jobs, he was always available when people needed help," Chief Jackvony said. "We are all feeling the loss of our friend and brother firefighter today."
Firefighter Nye was a Vietnam veteran and worked as an automotive mechanic in his private and military careers. The fire department says he was always helping with station maintenance and could be counted on to swing a hammer or paintbrush whenever necessary.
Nye leaves behind his wife of 53 years, two sons, five grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
His wife, Patricia, and sons, Thomas Jr. and Andrew, issued a statement, saying, "Tom lived a full, active and proud life. He loved his family endlessly and adored his five grandchildren, Christopher, Hailey, Camryn, Lily and Piper and his great granddaughter Madison. Tom was a gentle soul who would have done anything for those he cared about. He was born and raised in Marion and was part of a proud firefighting tradition in his family. He also served in the Vietnam War and regarded his military service with tremendous pride. We are heartbroken for the loss of a great husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother and friend whose memory will remain forever in our hearts."
The extended Nye family has a long and proud history of service in the Marion Fire Department and in the town government, boards and committees, including his nephew.
"You would be hard pressed to find a Marion resident who has not heard of or know a member of the Nye family," Town Administrator Paul Dawson said. "On behalf of the entire community, I wish to offer my heartfelt sympathy to Firefighter Nye's family and I extend my unending gratitude to the Nye family for their tireless service to Marion."
The Nye family has requested privacy but offers their "heartfelt gratitude to everyone at the Marion Fire Department and all of Tom's friends and colleagues in the Marion community and beyond who have offered their condolences and support during this difficult time."
Nye's body will be brought Thursday to the medical examiner's office in Sandwich for an autopsy.
Arrangements are still being made at this time, but a funeral with full fire department and military honors is anticipated.