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Forever friend ‘Shadow’ remembered

By Staff | May 20, 2020

Hundreds of friends, family and fellow first responders from around the state gathered at Lee Civic Center to remember Dwight Henry, 15-year volunteer firefighter at Bayshore Fire and Rescue District, who died May 8. CHUCK?BALLARO

Dwight Henry was a dedicated worker, a devoted “forever friend” who was exceedingly kind — someone who wanted to learn and love, and with his smile, he usually got it.

Thursday, hundreds of friends, family and fellow first responders from around the state gathered at the Lee Civic Center to remember Henry, 15-year volunteer firefighter at Bayshore Fire and Rescue District, who died May 8 at age 36 after falling ill while visiting family in Ocala.

Everyone sat 6 feet apart for social distancing and many wore masks for the indoor service, but all came to remember someone who brought great joy to people’s lives.

Lt. Irv Menager remembered Dwight as a bunkmate and a young man who so badly wanted to be a firefighter that he would follow behind everyone to see what they were doing, earning the nickname “Shadow.”

“I’ve never seen anybody so eager to learn about service. Dwight would follow every person in the department and you couldn’t take a step back without him being there,” Menager said.

The bell rings for Dwight Henry for the final time during the bell ceremony at his memorial service on Thursday at the Lee Civic Center. CHUCK BALLARO

“We would go to the bathroom and hide out and hopefully he would tag on to someone else,” he joked before becoming somber again. “I’ve never met a more genuine person like him.”

Menager learned to appreciate his desire to serve and belong, as did many of his friends, who said pretty much the same things about Henry.

“Dwight was oddly kind because most people don’t have the capacity to love like Dwight did. He had a habit of showing up at the house unannounced. While I was a little annoyed at first I learned Dwight was not being rude or inconsiderate. He knew the power of love and friendship,” said Alex Greenwood, Dwight’s best friend for 20 years. “All the women in my life chose to accept and love Dwight because that’s what he did for them. For Dwight, being close to people was to live.”

“Dwight was authentic. No ego. A helping hand, a loving heart, a listening ear, a short spot to land and a shoulder to lean on,” said Jennifer Greenwood, who added he was there as she battled cancer. “Family is our village, who loves you when you don’t love yourself. Dwight truly knew what it meant to be family.”

“Sometimes in life you need someone who is so special and you’re not ready for them to be taken,” said co-worker Shae Watson. “When Shadow smiled, he cast rays of light and we saw ourselves following him.”

Two firefighters stand at guard at the casket for Dwight Henry before his memorial service on Thursday at the Lee Civic Center. CHUCK BALLARO

Irene Clare continued by calling Henry a forever friend, while Fire Chief Larry Nisbet called him part of the Bayshore family who made the department special.

“Family is who we are and what keeps us going and strengthens us every single day. Whenever we’re in need, we answer the call and show up,” Nisbet said.

Henry got the full honors on this day. Guns & Hoses Pipe and Drum Corps performed Amazing Grace, and Taps was performed.

Dwight’s mother was presented the American flag while his brother, Dennis, who was also a Bayshore volunteer before going into law enforcement, was presented his helmet. They also signaled the last alarm and performed the bell ceremony, which is a fire station tradition.

Henry is survived by his mother, Celia, brother Dennis, cousin Joshua, aunt Claudia and nephew Xavier.

Bayshore Fire and Rescue District Lt. Irv Menager speaks during the memorial service for Dwight Henry on Thursday at the Lee Civic Center. CHUCK BALLARO

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