She faced the wall and wiped away tears.
Quietly, Sheila Turner watched as her husband’s name appeared on the granite.
Rickey C. Turner Sr.
On Tuesday, Turner became the city’s first black firefighter to have his name engraved on the Fort Worth Police and Firefighters Memorial wall. A brief ceremony followed in the afternoon.
“I am happy he’s being honored,” Sheila Turner said. “But I’m sad because he’s not here. He would have been proud, but he would have never expected this. He was a humble man.”
On the adjacent wall, the name of the first black officer, Jackson Palmer, was added to the police memorial. Palmer, a special officer for the city of North Fort Worth, was killed by gunfire Christmas night in 1908.
Palmer tried to intervene in a disturbance between a man and woman outside the Jones and Tomby Saloon. The man who shot him fled the scene and was never captured. The city of North Fort Worth was annexed by Fort Worth in 1909.
Tucked along West Seventh Street in Trinity Park, the memorial pays respect to the dozens of fallen Fort Worth officers and firefighters.
“It is important that we as a whole city pay our respects to those who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty,” Fort Worth Fire Lt. Kyle Falkner said. “This is a small way we can mark their service for future generations.”
Drawn to service, Turner joined the Fort Worth Fire Department in 1987 and served as an engineer. Throughout his career, he was exposed to multiple fires that caused pulmonary injuries, including one in 1997 and another in 1998.
Those injuries forced him into medical retirement in 2003, and in July 2016, he died as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty. Turner was 56.
Paul Measles, a friend and retired firefighter, said Turner practiced his faith through everyday service. On days off from work, he worked as a substitute teacher and mentored young black men and boys. At work, he served as a mentor to young firefighters.
“He was caring, solid, strong,” Measles said. “He led by example.”
Sheila Turner said her husband mentored in his free time for a simple reason. He wanted to give back to the community that had helped him.
“He wanted those kids to know what was possible in life,” she said.
When his injuries grew too burdensome for him to drive the fire engine, Turner transitioned to the fire safety side, educating young people about fire safety and helping businesses and other organizations develop evacuation plans.
Turner loved working as a firefighter, his wife said, but his true loves were his children, Rickey Jr. and Christina, who attended the engraving ceremony.
“My father was the first man I ever loved,” said his daughter, Christina Hanson, who gave birth to a daughter three months ago. “My dad is my hero, my greatest cheerleader. Everywhere I was, he was. He would have been the best grandparent.”