The Smith Mountain Lake community came together to mourn the loss of V.T. “Slim” Crawford on May 29. The longtime fire chief was honored at a memorial service at Scruggs Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department in Scruggs.

Hundreds of guests filled the fire department to pay their respects to Crawford and his family during a service led by Westlake Baptist Church Pastor Justin Likens.

Members of fire and rescue departments throughout the region attended, while Jane Crawford, Crawford’s wife and longtime volunteer firefighter, greeted them, along with Crawford’s dog Diesel.

One of the department’s now retired fire trucks featured an American flag grayed out except for a red line representing fallen firefighters, firefighting gear with “Chief” written on the back and a small wooden urn holding Crawford’s ashes.

Scruggs Chief Dempsey Moore held back tears as he spoke about his longtime friend. He was one of several current and former department members, colleagues and friends who shared the impact Crawford had on the community.

Moore told the crowd that Crawford wasn’t afraid to upset anyone along the way to improve the department or the community. “Chief Crawford wasn’t always the most popular person, but he always stood up for the betterment and his community without regard to consequences,” Moore said.

Moore said Crawford made Scruggs one of the leading departments in the county. The former chief worked to make sure the volunteers were well-trained, and that the equipment was “top notch,” he said.

“Rest in peace, Chief,” Moore said. “We will make you proud.”

Scruggs Assistant Chief William Hoyt, who joined the department five years ago, spoke about the lasting impact Crawford had on him and other volunteers. “Ever since I walked in those doors the first time, Slim took me in and tried to teach me everything he knew, which was pretty hard because the guy knew a whole lot,” he said.

Franklin County Public Safety Director Billy Ferguson and Sheriff Bill Overton also praised Crawford’s work in the community.

“He stood his ground and was deliberate in his actions as a leader,” Overton said.

After the service, Franklin County Public Safety issued a “final call” to all fire and rescue departments in the county in honor of Crawford. The call rang out in the department as hundreds bowed their heads in silence.

Members of the Roanoke City Fire Department Honor Guard concluded the service by ceremoniously folding an American flag 13 times. Once folded, the flag was presented to Jane Crawford, who carried the flag with her as she walked to the urn to say a final goodbye.