ST. LOUIS - Family, friends, and area firefighters paid their final respects Wednesday to a well-known fire chief who gave much of his life to serving our area.
Chief Jim Silvernail passed away one week ago. He was 74.
His funeral started at the Cathedral Basilica in the Central West End shortly after 10 a.m. Chief Silvernail's body arrived at the cathedral with a procession of first responder vehicles.
"He was a good person overall. He was the type of person that remembered your family members names, spouses, things like that," said Assistant Chief John Bradley of the Metro West Fire Protection District.
Silvernail first volunteered in the fire service at 14 years of age. His distinguished career flourished from there. He was with the Ballwin Fire Protection District, which became known as the Metro West Fire Protection District, from 1970 until 2003. He became the chief there in 1980.
Silvernail was later the chief of the Mehlville Fire Protection District from 2005 until 2010.
Silvernail was also devoted to Backstoppers, working with that organization from 2007 until his death. He even served on the Backstoppers Board of Directors.
"Even meeting him for a few minutes you felt like you were best friends with him, and the next time you met him he would ask about your wife," said Captain Matt Coppin of the Metro West Fire Protection District.
At his service, Silvernail was described as being dedicated to his family and colleagues. A giver, who attacked everything in his life, full speed.
"We knew the second he walked in the house. Things got much louder, but we knew it was full of love," said Sarah Silvernail, Jim's granddaughter.
Cheif Silvernail was respected personally but also professionally. He was very vocal about safety and protecting lives.
"He was involved at the state level billing out mutual aid agreements which allowed neighboring agencies to help one another," said Bradley.
Chief Silvernail was a husband, dad, grandpa, uncle, and brother who didn't know a stranger and truly cared for everyone in his life.
To honor Silvernail's memory, Metro West firefighters created helmet stickers and window decals with the proceeds benefitting Backstoppers.
For a $5 donation, you can get a helmet sticker; for $9 you can get a window decal.
After the service, a large procession brought Silvernail to his final resting place at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Ellisville.