“Ever ready, ever steady,” is how members of the Rio Vista Volunteer Fire Department describe former Assistant Chief Dale Hutchison.
“He was a key reason that our department has made 100 percent of our calls since 2014,” a Tuesday post on the RVFD's Facebook page reads. “His truck of choice was Tanker 76.”
Hutchison, 72, passed away Saturday. Hutchison served 48 years with the department.
Members of the Johnson County Commissioners Court on Monday held a moment of silence in remembrance of Hutchison.
“I knew Dale very well,” Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon said. “I talked to him not long ago. I said, 'I thought you retired.' But he was out there in Fisherman's Paradise on a medical call.
“Dale was a good one, just a very kind man, very good man. Heaven has a new leader up there but we'll sure miss him.”
Commissioner Rick Bailey said it was with great sadness that he announced Hutchison's passing to the rest of the commissioners court.
“I saw Dale driving a fire truck not two months ago,” Bailey said. “He just wouldn't quit. Dale was just a friend to everybody and was always there to help in anything anybody ever needed. He was a give the shirt off his back kind of guy. I really valued his friendship.”
Bailey said Hutchison comes from a good family, which includes Hutchison's brother, RVFD Chief Gail Hutchison, and his wife, Dean Hutchison, who also formerly served as chief of the department, as had Dale Hutchison.
“Just a great family who have given so much to Rio Vista and Johnson County through their years of service and been staples of our community,” Bailey said. “And Dale certainly cared about his community and it was always obvious how much he loved and enjoyed what he did working to keep people safe and help them. He was part of that greater generation and sadly we're losing too many of them. But he was a great friend and this is a great loss.”
Cleburne Assistant Fire Chief Keith Scarbrough spoke of Hutchison's passion for service.
“I consider myself fortunate to have worked with Dale side by side on so many emergency incidents over the years,” Scarbrough said. “He was such an enjoyable person to talk to and I learned so much from him during all those calls. The most important lesson of which is to enjoy what we were doing. I'm going to miss him, especially on that next big one.”
Johnson County Emergency Services District No. 1 Executive Director Tom Foster said he's known Hutchison “pretty much my entire career.”
“Just one of the good guys,” Foster said. “Dale always had a smile on his face no matter what the situation was. It's going to be a hard hit for Rio Vista. Dale and his family have been around forever and been such a huge part of the city and that department.”
Foster said he sent a note to all area fire chiefs regarding Hutchison's passing.
“Words cannot describe the contribution that Dale made to the fire service, citizens of Rio Vista and citizens of Johnson County,” Foster said. “Dale was always a good friend, always a mentor to me. God speed my friend and my brother.”
Rick Cumins, vice president of the JCESD board, said he's known Hutchison since 1961.
“He's 5 or 6 years older than me so he was in high school and I was in elementary,” Cumins said. “I knew his wife too because she was a grade above me.
“Dale was just a helluva good guy. We fought a lot of fires together, worked a lot of wrecks and medical calls together. Dale was always there when the tone went off and put a lot of years of service into giving back and helping people in Rio Vista and the county. I'm certainly going to miss him.”
Services for Hutchison will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Rio Vista Baptist Church. Hutchison's wife, Dean, requests that as many fire trucks that can come to his service.
Visitation is from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Rosser Funeral Home in Cleburne.