Although Montanans understand fire danger better than most, we still are overwhelmed by the insanely dangerous wildfires burning in the Los Angeles area this week. The pictures are terrifying. The uncertainty is even worse, and most of us no doubt are thankful that we are nowhere near this natural disaster.
But for one particular group of Montanans, seeing the danger to people and property hundreds of miles away meant they could not stay away.
As we reported Thursday, a strike team of 16 local firefighters and five engines has left to join the fight in Southern California, leaving the comfort of their own homes to save the home of others. Firefighters from Evergreen, Marion, Whitefish and Bigfork will join dozens of strike teams from six different states who have answered the call for assistance. All told, Montana is sending 55 people from 14 agencies across the state.
It cannot be overstated how proud we are of the brave men and women who are putting their own lives aside, and possibly at risk, in order to make a difference for others. Godspeed, and safe return.
Farewell, Jim Nabors
It is with sadness that we say good-bye to Jim Nabors, who graced Whitefish as a resident for many years.
The actor-comedian-singer passed away at age 87 in his Hawaii home last week.
Best known for his TV portrayal of a sweet-hearted Southern goofball named Gomer Pyle, Nabors was himself a Southern gentleman who had grown up in Alabama and then made his way to New York to pursue a career as a singer and actor. Despite stardom on “The Andy Griffith Show” and later “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” Nabors never lost his small-town charm nor the values he had learned as a boy.
When he talked to the Inter Lake about nearly dying before he received a liver transplant in the early 1990s, he shared his views on life and death.
“I’ve always had a very strong religious faith, so I was never really frightened. I was apprehensive but not frightened. It’s nothing that all of us are not going to go through. As my dad used to say, none of us are going to get out of this alive.”
Nabors enjoyed nearly 25 more years after receiving his liver transplant, and his advice from 1995 should serve all of us well if we follow his example:
“I want to enjoy each day of my life. The only thing I can tell you is, ‘Don’t plan for your happiness in the future. Have it every day... Enjoy life...”