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Sixteen years after Arnold D. “Wayne” Calvert retired from Radcliff Volunteer Fire Department as an assistant chief, his son Larry Calvert called his parents April 16 and asked them to attend Radcliff’s City Council meeting.
According to Wayne’s wife, Betty, they attended the meeting thinking Larry, who serves as RFD’s second in command, was going to be recognized. Instead, Mayor J.J. Duvall presented Wayne Calvert with an award recognizing his 33 years of service to the fire department.
Though her husband never wanted or asked for attention, the award meant a lot to Wayne, Betty said.
On Monday, the U.S. Army veteran and former assistant chief died at his Radcliff home after a long battle with cancer. He was 77.
“He was a very humble man,” Betty said Tuesday as her eyes brimmed with tears. “You could just look at him. He had black eyes that flashed when you talked to him. He loved it, being recognized, but he didn’t really want it. He did everything he did just because of the person he was.”
The funeral is at 11 a.m. Thursday at Stithton Baptist Church where Wayne and Betty Calvert married in 1961, she said.
According to RFD, Calvert joined the department in January 1964. Betty said her husband started volunteering because her father, Douglas E. Denson, served the Radcliff department.
By 1980, he was promoted to assistant chief and four years later was certified as a fire instructor, according to the department. His last recorded date of training was Dec. 5, 1996, and he retired in January of the following year.
Radcliff Fire Chief Jamie Henderson recalled Wayne was assistant chief when he joined the department in 1991 as a volunteer.
“(Wayne) was just a great person,” Henderson said.
Betty said one of her worst memories of her husband’s firefighter service was when an RFD captain died during a rescue attempt July 5, 1985.
“The fire chief was out of town and Wayne was acting fire chief,” she said. “(There were) a couple instances where there’s been deaths related to fires and he said that was hard. But he said by far the worst thing he ever had to do was to go there to that accident scene and have to go tell his wife.”
Originally from Scottsville, Wayne relocated to Fort Knox when he was drafted into the Army in 1958, according to his wife. He served two years active duty.
In addition to his 33 years at the fire department, Wayne worked at Fort Knox as a civilian employee more than 20 years, Betty said.
According to his wife, Wayne’s friends and family will remember him as a person to call if you needed help. She recalled an incident when her friend heard a strange noise in the middle of the night while the woman’s husband was gone.
“She said, ‘I thought it was a gas leak or something and all I could think about was what to do. Wayne Calvert! Call Wayne Calvert!’” Betty recalled of her friend’s story.
Ultimately, Wayne responded within minutes and found she left her water hose running, Betty said.
“You’d be surprised at the people who have called in the middle of the night and needed something,” she said. “He went any time. He’s left our Christmas dinners when a garbage disposal was stuck up. They needed him and he went.”
Sarah Bennett can be reached at 270-505-1750 or sbennett@thenews