The past couple of weeks have been tough. Two weeks ago, a friend of mine and former co-worker from the Hinesville Fire Department, George "Bear" Screws, passed away, and then this past week another friend and co-worker, Earnest "Moe" McDuffie also passed.
I started working at the fire department in 1999 and Bear was my first lieutenant. Prior to becoming a firefighter, I knew Bear from his part-time job working at the old Ace Hardware on Highway 196. I worked with my brother, Rick, at ABC Plumbing, and running into Bear was a common thing when I needed this part or that part. After becoming a full-time firefighter, I really got to know Bear even better. Bear had a hearty laugh, and would do anything in the world to help you. Bear was a hard worker, too. He would always be out there working with you. He never was one of those supervisors who sat around while his subordinates worked. Another thing I liked about Bear was his appreciation for his subordinates. Every night before he would go to bed at the fire station, he would look at all of us watching television in the day room and say, "Fellows I just want to let you know, I sure do appreciate all of your hard work today." I heard that many times from old Bear. One thing that both me and my wife Gina will never forget about Bear was, when our youngest son, Holden, who is 18 and about to graduate, almost died when he was 3 months old. Bear was the first person at the emergency room, supporting us and asking if we needed anything.
As for Moe, what can I say about Moesky? Well, I can say he was a good man. Moe got hired by the fire department a couple of years after me and we were on the same shift for the early part of our careers. Moe probably only weighed 150 pounds at this time, but when we worked out he was as strong as an ox. Whereas I moved on to primarily see treadmill action, Moe went on to run marathons. One thing I remember about my friend was when we ran medical calls together, he used to call us Batman and Robin. In 2010, Moe left working on the 24-hour shift, and moved over to the fire marshal’s office. He was promoted to lieutenant and eventually captain. A few years ago, we talked about me possibly leaving shift work and going to work for him. I remember Moe saying in that deep voice he had, "Yeah, Mike, Batman and Robin would be back together again, but this time I’m Batman." And then he laughed and smiled that big smile he had.
When a friend or family member passes on, one of the few comforts that you have is knowing that the person was saved. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know where Bear’s salvation was until I attended his memorial service two weeks ago. I sure was glad to hear that preacher say he was saved, and Bear wanted him to tell everyone at the service, that they need to get right with Jesus. Bear, you can be proud; that preacher did just that. As for Moe, if you knew Moe, you knew he was saved. From the first day I met Moe, I knew Jesus was the center of his life. I’m thankful for that too.
Bear leaves behind several members of his family, and I know they will miss him. But having talked to his brother Ricky, I believe they have some peace knowing he is in Heaven. I do know Bear also is now with his late wife Ms. Doris. She loved him, and he sure loved her back. Moe also leaves loved ones behind, but only temporarily. Ann, Earnest, Edward, and Alyssa, Moe sure did love all of you. When he spoke of each of you there was always a sparkle in his eyes. Rest in peace, Bear and Moe.