Paden City Volunteer Fire Company Lt. Mark Doty's funeral Saturday was a testament to his legacy.
A large turnout of residents and firefighters at St. Paul's United Methodist Church and along the streets of Paden City displayed community togetherness and the strength of the firefighting brotherhood.
The 28-year-old Doty, whose life was cut short by a tragic ATV accident last week, is survived by his parents Larry and Sandy Doty, wife Nikki Rutan Doty, sister Meghann Ferrell, niece Amaya Ferrell, nephew Solomon Ferrell, grandmother Blanche Doty, father and mother-in-law Olan and Trish Rutan, sister-in-law Jessie Rutan, and several aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. He had served the PCVFC for 15 years, since his start there as a junior firefighter in his early teens. But his influence did not stop in Paden City, or even in Tyler and Wetzel counties.
Doty won numerous awards for his teaching and development of firefighting education courses. For his work leading West Virginia University's (WVU) Fire Service Extension, he became nationally known; under his leadership, WVU taught approximately 18,000 firefighters across the nation this year alone. According to PCVFC Firefighter and Paramedic Tim Stanley, WVU's fire training was ranked 39th in the nation when Doty began, and now the school is within the top five percent.
Among his other credentials, Doty served as the director of the WVU State Fire Academy at Jackson Mill, was elected Vice President of the North American Fire Training Directors, and was a member of the West Virginia State Fire Chief's Association. With his help, the WVU Junior Fire Fighters Camp became number one in the nation. He was also known for working with and helping to acquire grants for fire departments across the state of West Virginia.
PCVFC Assistant Chief Tim McFadden described Doty's ambition, explaining that he was a third generation firefighter. His father, Larry Doty, remains an active member at PCVFC; his grandfather, Chris Doty, served as fire chief at one time; and his grandmother, Blanche Doty, is a lifetime member of the Ladies Auxiliary.
The bond between firefighters was made evident after his death with practices that signify both solidarity and the loss of one of their own: black wreaths hung outside of the fire department and on the trucks, black bands were worn across badges, and, during the service, outside of the church a large American flag was draped from two fire truck ladders.
Days prior to the service, a memorial, including a collage of pictures featuring Doty with fellow firefighters, was set in front of Rescue Six, his favorite truck. The Paden City High School staff, some of whom taught Doty and worked alongside his mother, Sandy Doty, for years, provided signs at the fire hall reading "We Salute You Mark Doty." Each helmet in the department was decorated with a green number five, Doty's unit number, with angel wings surrounding it. Following the service, firefighters and members of the community came together for a dinner provided by the Ladies Auxiliary.
"Mark was the heart and soul of this department," said Paden City Firefighter Misti Lookadoo, who called Doty her best friend. "He and I served together for 14 years."
Lookadoo went on to describe the extent of Doty's work, such as organizing events and taking care of various duties within the department.
"From being in a small town fire department, he took it big places," she said. "He did so much that no one else could have done."