We grieve with those who have lost loved ones this last year in our Firewise Communities. As we end this year and celebrate accomplishments that are quantified in the community renewals we receive, we wish to pay tribute to those whose tireless volunteer efforts have made a difference. It has been brought to our attention in this last year that two men whose work helping others in our southwest region’s Firewise Communities have left an incredible lasting legacy. Their efforts have made their communities much safer and more resilient in the event of a wildfire. Roger Terry, a “Firewiseguy” from Colfax County, New Mexico, and Gary Roysdon “Mr. Firewise”, from Prescott, Arizona, both passed away during 2014. Both men made such lasting contributions to Firewise efforts that Firewise is part of their moniker in their respective communities. Both lived large for Firewise and organized large Firewise coalitions of communities and agency partners in their area!
I contacted a longtime friend of Roger’s, Larry Osborn. He told me, “Roger Terry was a Firewise Guy along with Billy Donati and me. This was an effort to add humor into fire safety tips, because they are all kind of gloom and doom. We obtained a contract with the Three Stooges Estate, and used some of their material with fire safety tips, coining the term, don’t be a knucklehead, be a “Wise Guy”. The Tip of the Week still continues on local Radio today.”
According to Zoom Info, Roger Terry spent 16 years working in urban forestry and 30 years in firefighting. He taught firefighting all over the world, and created a curriculum for the Saipan fire department. He also developed two fire systems that have been patented. Roger began his fire training in 1977 as a volunteer firefighter in Bradenton Beach, Florida. He soon moved to a paid firefighter and paramedic's position in Sarasota, Florida, and worked through several certification levels including "Fire Service Instructor" and "High Rise and Water Rescue." After being part of the fire service industry, Roger relocated to Denver, Colorado. In Denver, Roger began a career which spanned the better part of 20 years as Green Industry Department Manager and Urban Forester. He held a "Colorado State Agriculture Qualified Supervisor Certification", "Trees and Shrubs Certification", "Forest Agriculture Certification" and was recognized as one of the experts in the field of "Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), Firewise Community Assessment".
According to Larry Osborn, “Roger washired by Colfax County, New Mexico through a grant from the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources as the County Forester. He worked together with me, the County Fire Marshal, and together we started seven different Firewise Communities in our County. At one time we were the fastest growing Firewise County in the Country. We also created the first countywide coalition of Firewise Communities to be recognized by the national Firewise program, and that coalition continues to this day. Roger was also instrumental in the construction of a pellet plant located in Raton, NM, which would utilize hogged material from a post and pole plant. We also worked together on several grants for our primary watershed which resulted in several thinning projects, along with an educational facet that involved the school system. These are just a few of the many things that Roger was able to accomplish during the short time he was with us.
Roger was one of those unique individuals that brought with him a passion for the forest, and for firefighting that seemed to spread to whoever he came in contact with. He truly believed in what he did. He was a man driven by a thousand ideas, his mind never stopped working and dreaming of how he could make things better. He was a great inspiration to many people in our County, and is greatly missed.”
Gary Roysdon, according to Joanna Dodder at the Prescott Daily Courier,“…was a man on a mission to reduce wildfire danger in the Prescott region.”
He figured out how make a direct impact, by volunteering an inordinate amount of time to the Prescott Area Wildland Urban Interface Commission (PAWUIC).
"This man did a minimum of 20 hours per week,” PAWUIC Chair P.J. Cathey said.
I first met Gary in February 2012 when I did a tour of the community with Michele Steinberg and Hylton Haynes. Gary’s enthusiasm and dedication were infectious. He helped multiple communities complete their assessments in the Prescott area and gain Firewise Recognition. He took us on a whirlwind tour of the communities to see all of the projects that they worked on in order that the communities would be safer in the event of a wildfire. I had a hard time keeping up with the 70+ year old man in the cowboy hat and cowboy boots who cared and worked collaboratively with many agency partners and was instrumental in organizing the local collation group known as PAWUIC.
In his other life Gary was a nuclear physicist, college professor and a restaurant owner. His final occupation was doing volunteer work, helping communities to become Firewise. His final act was to have memorial gifts go to the PAWUIC committee to benefit Firewise communities in the Prescott area.
We cherish our Firewise Community volunteers collectively. They have made a difference for more than 1,100 communities to date. If you would like to leave a lasting legacy of fire preparedness in your community we invite you to visit Firewise.org and learn how you and your community can become Firewise!