Submitted by his wife
District Chief Paul Parsons Satterfield loved every minute of his 27 years of firefighting with the Nashville‚ TN fire department. His fellow firefighters‚ friends‚ and family thought this 6’5‚’ 280 pound man of strength was invincible until he suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage following a difficult house fire in September 1998. Paul was strong in stature and strong in spirit. His untimely death on that crisp fall day shook the world for those that knew him.
Paul Satterfield left a rich heritage. He was instrumental in starting the Burn Center at Vanderbilt Hospital following the explosion in Waverly‚ TN that killed and brutally burned many local firefighters‚ police‚ and citizens. Paul was on the scene that day and watched helplessly as victims had to be transported to far away burn centers. He saw the need for a Burn Center in Nashville and was persistent in raising support for that purpose. Vanderbilt Burn Center is operational today and has earned a well-respected nation-wide reputation.
Continuing his involvement with the Burn Center‚ Paul began to realize the need for a camp designed specifically for burned children. They needed a place to swim‚ ride horses‚ and do crafts and other activities with other children who had suffered the same misfortune of catastrophic burns. He began efforts to acquire property on a nearby lake and funds to run a summer camp. Camp Phoenix is operational today and children with life-altering scars play together‚ protected from the stares and whispers of curious onlookers who might lack empathy for the disfiguring misfortune suffered by another.
Paul was also instrumental in starting the Firefighters’ Sertoma Club‚ the largest Sertoma Club ever to be chartered at that time in Tn‚ Al‚ Ga‚ or Mi. He was one of the first locally cross-trained first responders and helped start the First Responders’ Club. He created numerous fund-raising enterprises such as the Grand Prix Tricycle Race and the Chile Cook-off to support various charitable endeavors in the community. He helped to create a hiking path for the Easter Seal Society Center for Crippled Children. He created a fund and network of volunteers to help provide families with clothing and shelter within hours after devastating house fires. He created‚ edited‚ and distributed a firefighter newspaper for the middle TN area. Paul was deeply committed to his faith‚ and seldom missed an opportunity to share his faith with others. He taught Sunday School‚ participated in lay evangelism‚ and faithfully attended Bible studies and prayer groups. More importantly‚ he walked the walk.
Perhaps his greatest‚ but quietest‚ contribution to the brotherhood of firefighters‚ his family‚ and his community was his never-failing willingness to listen‚ counsel‚ and extend a helping hand to anyone in need‚ regardless of the situation. Whether he responded with a good joke‚ a few dollars‚ or a sincere prayer; he always wanted to ease the pain of others‚ and he usually succeeded. His infectious smile and gentle demeanor earned him the title of the ‘gentle giant’ among those that knew him.
Paul loved to hunt and fish and eat. He loved firefighting. But first and foremost‚ he loved his God and his family. Paul and his wife‚ Marilyn‚ were sweethearts for 25 years. He had four children: Paul Jr.‚ Laura‚ Evan‚ and Emily. Paul Jr. is an actor‚ Laura is a singer/songwriter‚ Evan is a paramedic/firefighter‚ and Emily is a TN Wildlife Technician. Their lives were shaped by their father’s strong example of faith‚ courage‚ responsibility‚ and love for life.
Paul Satterfield’s heritage lives on while his larger-than-life presence continues to be greatly missed. His absence leaves a huge hole in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.