GORDONSVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Orange County community is remembering the life of a former fire chief.

James Strong passed away last week. Wednesday fellow firefighters, family, and friends gathered to say one final goodbye.

The 71-year-old was an on-again, off-again fire chief at the Barboursville Fire Company since he was 29 years old. His full tenure dates back to when he was 16 and became a junior firefighter.

On Wednesday, his fellow firefighters paid tribute to Strong the way they know best. Fire trucks from all across Orange County and even Greene County lined the streets near Preddy Funeral Home in Gordonsville.

Inside the funeral home, those who knew Strong the best shared emotional testimony about his pride, commitment to community, and desire to put the fire company in a better position to respond.

“He was always here,” said Barboursville firefighter Zachary Buck. “He was always setting an example for the young guys like me.”

Strong started the Barboursville Fire Company’s weekly bingo night, bringing in much needed money for important training and equipment upgrades.

“It is what took us out of the dark ages and into modernization,” said former Barboursville Fire Chief Chris Knoell. “He was an incredible man and force around here and a conscious.”

Current Fire Chief Wesley Sheler said while a loss like this is crushing, with time the company will be able to move on without such a staple.

“No matter what, the job got done when he was around,” Sheler said.

Before passing, Strong asked that any memorial donations be made to the Barboursville Fire Company.