‘A mentor to all’: Veteran Marion firefighter dies after battling blaze

"He was always the first guy in the engine, start it up, wait for us to get here."

For Christopher Nye, his uncle Tom was a mentor.

A captain in the Marion Fire Department, the younger Nye had followed him into the line of duty — what he says is a proud family tradition.

And the older Nye, a 45-year department veteran, was there to show him the ropes, he said.

“He was here at six o’clock at night, he was here at two o’clock in the morning,” Christopher Nye told reporters Wednesday. “He was always the first guy in the engine, start it up, wait for us to get here.”

Now the community where the elder Nye was born and raised and that he so diligently served is mourning his sudden loss in the line of duty.

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Officials say the 72-year-old Vietnam War veteran helped knock down a chimney fire on Point Road just before 1 p.m. Tuesday before he returned home.

On Wednesday morning, the call firefighter suffered “what is believed to be a cardiac incident and collapsed,” according to a joint statement from town leaders and Fire Chief Brian Jackvony.

“The very same firefighters that he worked with at the chimney fire on Point Road responded to his house,” Jackvony said at a press conference Wednesday night.

He was brought to Tobey Hospital in Wareham, where he was pronounced dead, officials said.

His death is classified as a line of duty death because of the demanding duties he’d had at the scene, according to Jackvony. An autopsy was scheduled with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Mashpee Thursday, followed by a fire department procession to bring his body to Saunders-Dwyer Funeral Home in Mattapoisett later in the afternoon, officials said.

A father to two adult sons, Tom Nye was a retired automotive mechanic who never missed an opportunity to work with his hands and pitch in with repairs and maintenance around the fire house, according to the statement.

“We are a call fire department, and Firefighter Nye anchored our Station 2 during the day. While many of our younger firefighters are working their private jobs, he was always available when people needed help,” Jackvony said in a statement. “We are all feeling the loss of our friend and brother firefighter today.”

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Tom Nye’s contributions to community service ran deep, others said.

“You would be hard pressed to find a Marion resident who has not heard of or know a member of the Nye family,” Town Administrator Paul Dawson said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire community, I wish to offer my heartfelt sympathy to Firefighter Nye’s family and I extend my unending gratitude to the Nye family for their tireless service to Marion.”

According to Christopher Nye, his uncle was set to leave Thursday on vacation to Florida with his wife of 53 years, Patricia.

The Nye family has extended its gratitude to the fire department and all of Tom Nye’s friends in the community, loved ones wrote in a statement.

In addition to his two sons, Thomas Jr. and Andrew, Tom Nye is survived by five grandchildren — Christopher, Hailey, Camryn, Lily, and Piper — and a great granddaughter, Madison.

His family said he lived “a full, active and proud life,” in its statement.

Christopher Nye called him “a mentor to all of us here in this fire department.”

“Tom was a gentle soul who would have done anything for those he cared about,” the family’s statement reads. “He was born and raised in Marion and was part of a proud firefighting tradition in his family. He also served in the Vietnam War and regarded his military service with tremendous pride. We are heartbroken for the loss of a great husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother and friend whose memory will remain forever in our hearts.”

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Arrangements were not yet finalized as of late Wednesday night, but a funeral with full fire department and military honors is anticipated, the family said.

“Tom will be missed. He’ll be missed on this engine,” Christopher Nye said, fighting tears.

He pointed to his heart and added, “And he’ll be missed here.”

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