Firefighters from Liberty County and the surrounding area gathered Saturday, Sept. 4, in Tarkington to honor former Tarkington Fire Chief Dalton Laffie Gregory, who died Aug. 28, at the age of 82.
Gregory, known as “Daddy D” by the countless firefighters he mentored, was the father of current TVFD Fire Chief Paul Gregory and former Tarkington firefighter Dalton Gregory. He served as fire chief for Tarkington VFD during three different stints and, for a while, was the department’s longest-serving fire chief, a record surpassed only by his son.
Alan Gartner, fire chief for Woodville Fire Department, was among Gregory’s pallbearers. Gartner first met Daddy D 35 years ago when Gartner was a young man learning the ropes of fire service at the Livingston Fire School.
“He taught me a lot about fire service. Back then with him, it was either be tough or get out of the way. He told us what we were supposed to do and if we didn’t do it the right way, then he might send us down the road,” Gartner said. “He was a good man who will be greatly missed.”
Gregory was well known for his tough demeanor but he also showed great kindness to the people he loved and those who had earned his respect, according to TVFD Asst. Chief Ben Burnett.
“My father passed away early and Daddy D became a mentor for me. We became very close over the years. I met him when I joined the fire department in 2017. He was a big ol’ grouch but we had a great friendship,” Burnett said. “He was a man who appreciated straight talk. There is no doubt about that. If he liked you, you knew it, but if he didn’t like you, you knew that, too.”
Gregory’s funeral was held at Rural Shade Baptist Church with interment afterward at Pace-Stancil Memorial Rest Gardens in Cleveland. His casket was carried atop an antique fire truck to the cemetery with numerous fire apparatus serving as escorts along the way.