Submitted by his family
Charles ‘Lance’ Mathew was 20 years of age when he answered his last call on March 18‚ 2003‚ while responding to an early morning automobile accident. At that moment‚ our lives were changed forever.
He graduated from Hamshire-Fannett High School in 2000 and attended Lamar University for a short time before joining the LaBelle-Fannett Volunteer Fire Department. Lance worked harder than any of us had ever seen‚ and he made the rank of Lieutenant in less than a year.
At home‚ Lance was a typical 20 year old. While he may not have been excited about helping Mom and Dad around the house‚ there was no stopping him from jumping in his truck to help someone else. Never have I met someone so generous. Whether it be putting up Christmas lights‚ helping with building projects or just running errands – whatever anyone needed‚ all they had to do was ask. And‚ he never said a word about it. He’d just shake his head and grin.
Lance joined the fire department in April 2002 with his good friend‚ Lee. It just fell into place. There were no discussions‚ no questions‚ no worries. Joining the fire department turned out to be the most important decision Lance made in his lifetime‚ and yet he took it with a grain of salt. He didn’t join to become a hero. He didn’t join to be important. But‚ he was so proud to be a part of the department. I think he showed that badge to everyone he met.
To Lance‚ the two most important things in life were fishing and firefighting. It has been said numerous times by those closest to him that he would fish in a ditch if it had a little water in it. But‚ look out if you were with him when tones sounded! There was nothing more important. He’d drop everything to respond to that call.
Lance had a gift for making people feel special. He probably never realized that he touched so many lives in so many ways. That smile could brighten up even the darkest days.
It is doubtful that Lance ever realized how important he was to our community‚ to his friends‚ and to our family. The truth is‚ his death has left a hole in our hearts that can never be filled.