The Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre was filled to capacity with firefighters standing along the walls as the community said goodbye to the man they said was the heart and soul of the Alvinston Fire Department.
Jim Hayter died in a car accident March 16 near Glencoe, just two weeks after his wife, Mary Louise, passed away suddenly from complications from asthma.
“Jim was truly the heart and soul of the fire department,” said Alvinston Fire Chief Ron McCabe. “He and Mary Louise were part of the heart and soul of the community.”
Hayter’s best friend, Ken Alderman, said he was a great man “a brother as Jim once called me.” Alderman and Hayter served on Brooke-Alvinston council together as well, with Hayter serving as deputy mayor since 2006.
The most touching tributes came from his sons, Chad and Pat.
Pat, who is a Toronto firefighter, says he felt his calling after watching his dad at the department. “I remember watching day with amazement, thinking he was like a super hero,” he said through tears.
“If a man’s life is measured by how many people he serves, lives he’s changed…or by being a great father and grandfather, then there are not too many on this earth greater than my dad,” added son Chad.
Hayter was saluted by firefighters from across Lambton County and a large contingent from Toronto as his body was taken to the cemetery on the 1940s fire truck he helped restore.