Captain Donnie Varner

From the time I was little, I remember my dad, Donnie Varner,as a laughing, happy, loving, generous, larger than life person, who’s laugh, good looks and charm could light up a room. I remember once at a movie theater watching Smoky and the Bandit, my dad’s laugh in the theater, someone in the back yelled, “Varner is that u”??!! Everyone that met him, fell in love with his infectious and generous spirit. He loved his family, friends, playing the guitar, singing and dancing, beach music, hunting, fishing and PBR’s and Lucky Strike cigarettes!! He taught me the love of shagging and slow dancing to a Dean Martin song, to the love of the beach, the wonderful sound of the ocean at sunrise and the excitement of landing a drum off the Kure Beach pier. Hence part of the reason my home is now Morehead City, NC.

He was a firefighter and captain, for 30 years in which time I spent many a Sunday, with my mom and brother visiting him at stations all over the city of Greensboro. That’s when they had uncomplicated numbers like central 3,4 etc!!! I remember the comradarie of the guys both personally and professionally, on and off the job. I learned the sounds of the alarms knowing which one indicated his station, along with the overhead announcer from dispatch, that it was his time to ride!! OMG the excitement and fear of wondering where he was going as he mounted his gear, the steel double doors rose from the firehouse and he rode off on the fire truck with sirens blasting and engines roaring. Many times leaving a freshly prepared hot meal to sit until they returned. What pride and love “my daddy is a fireman”!!! I would watch him disappear out of site, both day and night, and knew no matter what my daddy and his guys would save the day!!!!

He spent many nights, holidays and weekends away from his family working 24 hour shifts and part time jobs on his days off from everything to painting and hanging wallpaper to delivering medications for Brown Gardiner Drugs. I would learn to watch my brother do the same thing as he followed in his foot steps as a firefighter!! I still feel that same adrenaline rush when I hear those fire truck sounds and sirens, thinking there goes somebody’s dad or mom, son, daughter, sister or brother to protect and serves us all!!!

by: Sherri Varner Ward