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Team Remembers Henderson Rescue Squad Chief After He Loses Battle With COVID-19

Fifty-seven-year-old Bryant Lee Woodard, who served on the Henderson City/County Rescue Squad for more than 30 years and as chief for 23, died Sunday morning.

Posted: May 24, 2021 11:05 PM
Updated: May 26, 2021 12:26 AM

Friends and colleagues are mourning the loss of a beloved and respected leader. 

Fifty-seven-year-old Bryant Lee Woodard, who served on the Henderson City/County Rescue Squad for more than 30 years and as chief for 23, died Sunday morning. 

"In his more than 30 years, he could do it all," said Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Coghill. "It's going to be a big void for us to fill, we're all just trying to pick up and step up and do what we can because we want him to be proud of us."

Chief Woodard was admitted into the ICU at Deaconess Henderson Hospital nearly two weeks ago, receiving around-the-clock care for bronchitis and COVID-19.

On Thursday, his condition took a turn for the worse, according to an update on HCCR's Facebook page.

It was an untimely and tragic death his team never saw coming.

"I was getting updates from his wife periodically and from him until things turned worse," Asst. Chief Coghill said. "One day he would be good, the next day he would be bad and we all just thought, 'he's hard-headed', that he was going to pull through like he did everything else."

Now his squad is remembering his legacy -- of how much he loved his community and how much it loved him back.

"There was love both ways, both ways," Captain Mike Coghill said.

Even though they're grieving the loss of a friend and mentor, they're also thinking back on the memories that make them smile.

"How well he stocked these trucks," Cpt. Coghill laughed. "He could put more equipment on a truck than two departments, somehow he found a way to fit it in."

When the calls came in and the tones went off, Chief Woodard meant business, but his squad said he was known for his sense of humor so when it wasn't all-hands-on-deck, Chief Woodard always kept the team on its toes. 

"He was always a joker around the building," Asst. Chief Coghill said. "He'd hold the door when we couldn't get in, turn the lights off and scare us when we walked in, hit the back of the truck when you're backing in, things like that."

Chief Woodard will be laid to rest at Roselawn Memorial Gardens on Saturday, following a funeral service at 11 a.m.

Visitation will be held that morning from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Benton-Glunt & Tapp Funeral Home. There will also be an opportunity to say goodbye Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Before they give him the send-off he deserves, his team is asking the community for one thing.

"Just ask for prayers for the family," Cpt. Coghill said. "They really, really need it right now."

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Just another day in paradise; afternoon highs again topped out in the mid to low 70s across the Tri-State under a mix of sun and clouds. If you have plans out and about this evening, make sure to grab a jacket before you head out - after seeing temperatures near 64° around dinnertime, the mercury will dip to 57° by 10 o'clock before falling all the way back down into the mid to upper 40s early Wednesday morning. Sure, tomorrow morning's lows of 47° will represent our mildest start to a day since this past Friday, but it's still going to make for a cool start to our midweek nonetheless. The combination of sunshine and southerly winds however, will help drive temperatures back into the low 70s by lunchtime - if you're planning on lunching outside Wednesday, make sure not to do so in the shade. Wind gusts near 15 mph at times during our lunch hour will make for a chilly brown bag lunch outdoors.
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