One night in 1972, Jasper C. “J.C.” Tucker heard a knock on his front door asking for help. The Ogeechee restaurant in Tucker’s Blitchton community was on fire.
Tucker, a lifelong resident of Blitchton, got up and ran to help put out the fire. The rural community in northwest Bryan County didn’t have a fire station at the time — the closest was in Pembroke.
Despite the efforts of Tucker and other volunteer firefighters at the scene, the restaurant burned to the ground. That prompted Tucker to lead a group to ask the Bryan County Board of Commissioners to help form a fire department to serve Blitchton.
The commissioners responded by helping purchase a fire truck, and Tucker and others raised money to build the community’s first fire station.
On Oct. 27, family, friends and members of Bryan County Emergency Services gathered at the Blitchton Volunteer Fire Station to celebrate Tucker, one of the founding members, on his 90th birthday. He received a Golden Axe for his 43 years of volunteer firefighter service.
BCES employees and volunteers built the plaque holding the axe.
Tucker is still an active volunteer firefighter today and has been a mentor to many.
At 3 a.m. one day in October, Tucker delivered water with Tanker 4 to a fire BCES was working in Ellabell.
“If you will look around, you can see the fruits of Mr. Tucker’s labor,” BCES Chief Freddy Howell said during the celebration.
Tucker was the 2002 Firefighter of the Year and received the Chief’s Award in 2006.
“One man that cares makes a difference,” Howell said, quoting Jerry Allen. “And Mr. J.C. Tucker has made a huge difference.”