By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun
Editor’s note: An album with more photos from Saturday’s event is available on the Daily Sun Facebook page.
They came from across the county, and across the state, to help the family of a fallen firefighter.
Perry Calvin was one of a dozen firefighters that were killed in the tragic fertilizer plant explosion in West on April 17.
Calvin, 37, of Frost, left behind a wife, two young boys, and a third child on the way. The family had no life insurance.
Saturday, the generosity and caring spirit of Navarro County — and beyond — came out in full force to help raise funds for the family.
Centered around a classic car show spearheaded by Bob Reddish and “Cars of Navarro County,” several other groups and individuals joined in to expand the event to include a bake sale, auction, and other events to help draw interest, and participation.
It worked as hoped, with crowds of supporters, family, friends and fellow firefighters filling the four-block area downtown to capacity.
Reddish said in a Facebook post Sunday he estimated the benefit raised over $18,000, adding that number could go higher.
From hot dogs and hamburgers supplied by C&C Trading Post, soft drinks and water sold by the Corsicana Police Officer’s Wives Association, a half-block long bake sale, T-shirt sales, numerous other donations from groups and individuals, and an auction with items donated by dozens of businesses, interest and participation was high and the spirit of generosity obvious.
Special recognition was also given to the many volunteer and full-time fire departments that attended the event, from across the county, as well as out of county agencies.
John Robinson of the Retreat Volunteer Fire Department led a tribute to Calvin and his fellow firefighters. Robinson is also the Chaplain of the North Texas Fireman’s and Fire Marshals Association.
“The horrific tragedy that occurred in West that afternoon took the lives of 12 members of our firefighter family,” he said. “I don’t think that any one of the firefighters in West asked themselves ‘should I go, or let someone else do that job?’ — it was in their blood to serve.”
Robinson’s voice trembled slightly as he read the list of names of the firefighters that were killed in the West blast, beginning with Perry Calvin. As Robinson read the names of those who perished, a bell was rung.
He then recited the “Fireman’s Prayer” in tribute to the fallen firefighters.
Perry Calvin’s brother, Wes Calvin, was in attendance with his family, along with sister Penny Dixon. They accepted a gift for the family — a shadow box tribute to a firefighter, along with a picture of Perry Calvin.
“Thank you for coming out, we appreciate everything,” Wes Calvin said. “It’s very overwhelming, the generosity of the community. Y’all are a group of awesome people.”
Wes Calvin said the family is "doing as well as expected" following Perry's death.
He said Saturday's turnout and show of support was "amazing," and spoke to the spirit and generosity of Navarro County and its citizens.
"You wouldn't expect this kind of thing in the world we live in today," Wes said. "We appreciate everything that everyone has done."
More information from Saturday’s show and auction will appear in the Tuesday print edition of the Daily Sun.