Jerry Ozbirn had served in the Baldwyn Fire Department since 1963, and as chief since 2006.
Family, friends and residents of the community are mourning the death of longtime Baldwyn Fire Chief Jerry Ozbirn. He died Thursday, Nov. 9, after a battle with cancer. He was 71.
Funeral services were held Saturday, Nov. 11 at First Christian Church in Baldwyn. Following the funeral, Ozbirn’s casket was placed atop Baldwyn’s white fire truck – one of his last requests – and carried to Prentiss Memorial Gardens, where his body was laid to rest. As the processional moved north on 4th Street in Baldwyn after the funeral, two ladder trucks from the Baldwyn and Booneville fire departments created a bridge over the street with their ladders, holding a flag in the middle as a show of honor to Ozbirn as his truck passed underneath.
Dozens of community members attended his funeral, with many others standing along the roadside as his processional drove by.
Ozbirn had served as a member of Baldwyn’s fire department since 1963, and was heavily involved with emergency management response in the area. He became Fire Chief in 2006. In addition to his work with the fire department, Ozbirn also served as a member of the National Guard, was a Mason and a member of First Christian Church in Baldwyn where he served as a deacon and elder.
Baldwyn Mayor Michael James said Ozbirn’s passing has left a tremendous hole in the fire department and the community.
“When I was elected mayor in 2009, the fire department was already well-maintained,” James said. “Jerry took care of business. The fire department was his life and he always put everything he had into it. He is one of those guys who can’t be replaced. He will be missed by our entire community.”
Ozbirn’s daughter, Angela Murphy, expressed her and the family’s appreciation for the community in a Facebook post following Jerry’s funeral.
“My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion,” Murphy wrote. “My daddy’s service was everything he would have wanted. From the gorgeous music by Joe B. and Pam Duncan, to the humor brought by Kelly Carmichael, the Honor Guard, Lee Co 911 for the Last Call, the ladder trucks with the flag across the highway, the many men and women that made today possible, and his wish to be carried to the grave on the fire truck. It was so humbling to see the respect shown by our beautiful town of Baldwyn and the many Fire Departments across North MS. A special thanks to Baldwyn Fire Department and Sam Parker for helping make last night and today exactly what daddy wanted. As we made our way to the cemetery, we saw many people standing at the road and saluting him . . . people we didn’t even know. For all of you that have and continue to hold us up, there’s never enough thanks.”
Ozbirn is survived by his wife, Barbara, two daughters, and three grandchildren.