JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fire Capt. Thomas Barber was remembered Tuesday as a man with a bright smile who committed his life to serving others.
The 21-year veteran of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department died last week at age 51. He is survived by his wife, three children and both of his parents.
To hundreds gathered at a service at the Christian Fellowship Temple in Macclenny, Barber’s death was described as a tragic loss to JFRD, the community and his family.
“They are extremely distraught and that’s the only way to put it,” JFRD Chief Keith Powers said. “My heart absolutely breaks for Melissa and those children right now because their rock is gone.”
Since Barber died was within 24 hours of his last service call, it’s considered a line-of-duty death and will receive full fire department honors. The cause of death has not been released.
According to JFRD, Barber was assigned to Rescue 25 and he had served on the Westside for the majority of his career.
He was raised in Baker County and returned there after serving in the U.S. Navy during the Gulf War. He started his fire career as a volunteer with the Baker County Fire Department.
“A lifetime of service from being a lifeguard in high school all the way serving 21 years with the Fire and Rescue Department. He has done nothing but serve his community, serve his family,” Powers said. “That lifetime of service was very evident.”
Barber was buried with full military honors after a procession to the Jacksonville National Cemetery. Community members wishing to pay their respects lined North 7th Street to U.S. 90 to State Road 228 in Macclenny.