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‘Everybody loved him:’ Sylva remembers late fire chief

By Kristen Aguirre

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    SYLVA, North Carolina (WLOS) — It was the surprise of the season!

On Friday, the Savanah Volunteer Fire Department in Jackson County remembered its late chief of 36 years, Darrell Woodard.

Woodard passed away last December after a battle with COVID-19. On Friday night, the community surprised his family with a declaration honoring his life.

“It’s the hardest thing. You’re lonely,” Woodard’s wife Leigh said.

It’s been 365 days without her husband, her partner.

“Not fun, lost. I do not wish it on anyone,” she said.

On Friday, she was reminded of how much her late husband meant to the community.

Leigh Woodard’s family, the city of Sylva and Jackson County surprised her with a proclamation declaring Dec. 10, Darrell’s birthday, as the Darrell Woodard Day of Service.

“Everybody loved him,” said Floyd Green, who took over as chief.

Everyone, including Green, had big shoes to fill, he said.

“It’s been a headache because I took over as chief,” Green said. “We depended on him to do a lot. He was such a likable guy, so giving, wanting to help everybody.”

Woodard was likeable and very humble, Leigh said, though accepting compliments were not Darrell’s favorite thing.

“He would not like it,” she said.

But pushing people to give back, now, that’s something Woodard would love, Leigh said, urging others to keep his legacy going through that very mindset.

Part of Friday’s ceremony included a toy drive.

“Be selfless, think of other people,” Leigh said.

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