Fire Chaplain Gilbert Madison “Gil” Chard, 75, of Kingsport, TN passed away Sunday afternoon, March 10, 2019 at Holston Valley Medical Center due to complications from chemo and radiation treatments for recently diagnosed small cell lung cancer. Born August 31, 1943, in Kenton County, Kentucky, to William M. and Charlene Steidle Chard, he graduated from Ludlow High School in 1962 (Ludlow, Ky). Gil served honorably in the United States Air Force (1962-1966). He was proud to be a third-generation Chard to retire from Norfolk Southern Railroad, retiring in August 2003 as an engineer.
Gil was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife Joyce A. McMillen Chard, who died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1981, both younger brothers William and Ronald Chard, and tragically an infant grandson Andrew Chard.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 36 years, June Carol Cleek Amburgey Chard of Kingsport, two sons, William M. Chard (Sherry L.) of Lake Jackson, Texas, Thomas C. Chard of Morristown, Tennessee, one daughter, Christine Chard McBroom (Frank C. V.) of Grayson Kentucky, one step-daughter, Judith C. Amburgey Peters (Scott E.) of Ashland, Ohio, one step-son, John C. Amburgey of Florence, Kentucky, four grandsons, one granddaughter, and one great-grandson.
Gil was involved in volunteer firefighting more than 55 years, starting at just 17 and staying involved throughout his life everywhere he lived. In the 90’s, Gil, with June’s support, helped establish the North Jessamine County Volunteer Fire Department (Ky). Within a year of moving to Tennessee in 2003, he served endless hours at Warriors Path Volunteer Fire Department, where he was also the acting chaplain and his family away from home. Gil was a tireless community servant and volunteer for so many causes it could fill a book. But to name a few: early on he was very active with leading Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and coaching sports team. In the early 90’s Gil served Jessamine County (Ky) Hospice where he and June did everything asked of them from mowing hospice clients’ grass to doing eleventh hour sitting to running a hospice thrift store. During this time, Gil also served as a counselor for Camp ECHO, a camp for youngsters affected by the loss of a sibling or parent or other person important in their life. Gil worked at a Fayette County (Ky) Cemetery doing everything from digging graves to singing at grave side services. He was part of King’s Disciples, a singing group that visited churches and nursing homes, including a trip to Maryland. Gil continued to sing at every opportunity; up to, and including, singing to employees at the Cancer Center at Indian Path while receiving radiation treatment. In 1992, Gil and June were instrumental in organizing the Ky Chapter of Campers on Mission (C.O.M) of which he was president for 2 years. Gil and June traveled annually to N.C. to work in missions at the N.C. State Fair with the N.C. C.O.M. group for 20 years. Gil regularly traveled to national C.O.M. rallies and worked with the Tennessee C.O.M. completing building projects or structural repairs to Christian Schools and Bible Camps. Gil traveled the entire United States for various charitable efforts, as well as serving in the capacity of a Chaplain, often using his talented singing voice for many of the services in which he participated and/or conducted. He traveled to various disaster sites for American Red Cross Disaster Relief including the Nashville Floods, East Tennessee Tornados, the Sevier County Wildland Fires, and all but a couple of the Line-of-Duty Deaths in Tennessee since 2007. He earned his Master Chaplain certification in 2017 and was named 2018 Chaplain of the Year by the Tennessee Federation of Fire Chaplains. Gil often assisted June with efforts in her favorite cause F.R.A.N.K. (Feline Rescue and No Kill). Gil is described by friends from the decades as “one of the most unselfish people I’ve ever met” and “he saved my life.”
Services are at Fordtown Baptist Church, 444 Old Fordtown Road, Kingsport, TN where he and June are members, on Thursday March 14. The Receiving of Friends will be from 12-2 pm, with Memorial Services following immediately at the church, and Interment Services immediately following at the Fordtown Baptist Church Cemetery. Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes will coordinate with the Warriors Path Volunteer Fire Department and Tennessee Federation of Fire Chaplains, who are honored to provide pallbearers, and will coordinate honoring his military service.
Gil’s PASSIONATE wishes are for NO floral arrangements. Gil requested memorial donations be given to Warriors Path Volunteer Department, PO Box 5343, Kingsport, TN 37663.