Lincoln Co. fire captain leaves legacy after losing battle with COVID-19, firefighters say

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — A Lincoln County family and fire department said their final goodbyes to one of their own Saturday.

The South Fork Fire Department announced last Friday that Capt. Phillip Connor died from COVID-19 complications.

Connor served for more than 10 years in different roles, the department said. The assistant fire chief said Connor leaves behind an incredible legacy.

They’re getting by with help from the community.

“We’re getting through it with the love and support of everybody around us, we’re making it through,” said assistant chief Isaiah Herndon.

It already appears that Connor’s legacy will live on. The captain’s 17-year-old daughter, Chaley Connor, is also a junior firefighter at the same department. Herndon said she is training to become a full-time firefighter, just like her dad.

“We’re going to teach her everything we know so she can live on the Connor legacy,” Herndon said.

The fire chief said the day Chaley Connor turned in her application for membership was one of the happiest days in Connor’s career. They worked together for about a year and a half.

On Saturday, Chaley Connor climbed into the truck her father drove and held his ashes during a procession around Lincolnton.

“He wouldn’t want me to be upset. He wouldn’t want me to cry,” Chaley Connor said.

The procession took Capt. Connor from Warlick Funeral Home off Dave Warlick Drive to the South Fork Fire Station and to the Long Shoals Wesleyan Church, before the funeral service at 2 p.m. at Long Shoals Wesleyan Church.

“It’s not just this department where I lost a brother, everyone around us in the community lost a friend, brother, father. Just an overall great guy. He was just an amazing guy,” a firefighter said

The South Fork Fire Department did not say if Connor was vaccinated against COVID-19.

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