SALMON — There are figures in every small community that represent many of its virtues and all of its citizenship.
Charles “Buzz” Wing, of Salmon, was such a man and his unexpected death this month, at age 55, has left a gap larger than the Idaho mountain town where he was born and which he called home.
Buzz was a son, brother, husband and father and he was more than that. A 29-year veteran of the Salmon Volunteer Fire Department, Buzz married his second wife, Luann “Boo” Robie, in Montpelier in 2000 while the pair was attending fire school.
On Nov. 1, the day Buzz died, he would have marked his 29th anniversary working at the Lemhi County Road Department, where he recently had been promoted to assistant supervisor.
The fire department and its dozens of members was a kind of family affair for Buzz. He served as assistant chief under his brother-in-law, Fire Chief Mike Warner, and one of Buzz’s four children with his former wife – Sherri Lyon – also serves on the firefighting force.
Sherm Dickens, retired Salmon community service officer, worked as a fireman with Buzz. He praised his former colleague – whose funeral this week drew fire and law enforcement officials from elsewhere in the state – for his dedication to serving his family, the department and the community, all of which were one and the same.
“His passing leaves a very large hole, not only as a fireman but as a friend,” Dickens said.
Bob Perry, retired Salmon fire chief, said Buzz, whom Perry knew from the time of his birth, was like a brother.
“In fact, Buzz didn’t have any friends; everybody Buzz ever met was family,” Perry said.
An avid outdoorsman known for his unfailing sense of humor, a beloved county employee and a respected fireman, Buzz represented what it was to be a Salmon native, said Lemhi County Commissioner Brett Barsalou.
“I think a statement about his character is that he was committed silently. It was never ‘look at me, look at what I’m doing.’ He just quietly went about his job and service to his community,” Barsalou said.
He added, “He had those qualities and that attitude our community was based on. Our fire volunteers, our search-and-rescue volunteers, our EMT volunteers … I think the people who do those jobs give our community its strength and character. And Buzz exemplified that.”