Former Randall County Fire Department Chaplain Wyley Chaney was honored with a resolution Tuesday morning during the Randall County Commissioner's Court meeting.
"Whereas, when the bell tolled three times on October 9, 2017 for Wyley Chaney, all firefighters in the panhandle lost a trusted friend whose boots cannot be filled and who will forever be remembered as an example of a true disciple of Christ," the proclamation read in part.
Randall County Judge Ernie Houdashell expressed remorse for not having honored Chaney in the court sooner.
"It's now official that this court has honored him. The resolutions are nice and they become a part of Randall County history," he said.
Chaney -- the husband, father, fireman, entertainer, ordained minister and friend -- was already a firmly cemented part of Randall County history.
On legacy.com and boxwellbrothers.com, mourners wrote about what Chaney meant to them.
"Wyley is a very special person to me. We grew up in the same neighborhood and went to school together from first grade through high school," wrote Joy Terry-Fassauer. "I will forever remember him as the kindest, most caring person with an endless love for the Lord and his beautiful family. Wyley was a beacon of light to all who had the opportunity to know him. I will miss him greatly."
"Wyley came to see me while I was in the hospital. He brought me a CD that mostly lives in the CD player in my car. He will be greatly missed," Paul Hicks lamented.
"I remember when we were young married couples attending Sunday school together at Hillcrest Baptist Church," wrote Karen Porter. "Wyley could keep us going through thick and thin. He always had a smile on his face. I know he is up in Heaven singing in God’s choir now."
"Wyley made such a positive impact on my life," Mindy Cox Odom wrote. "He was an amazing musician, leader, believer, father, husband, friend, fireman … every role he played in life was done with excellence. I am so blessed to have known him and the rest of the Chaney family."
"He was a very good Christian man. We all love Wyley," Houdashell said. "He was a dear friend. I miss how honest he was. Every time he saw me he asked, 'Do you know where your heart is today?'"
The small Commissioner's Court room was packed by Chaney's family, bandmates, coworkers and friends.
"I miss everything about him," said Ruthie Pryor.
Pryor and Chaney met while in junior high school. They sang in church as adolescents and again as adults when he formed Wyley Chaney and the Easy Street Band in 2003.
"He was a preacher, teacher, humanitarian. He loved people and was a crowd pleaser. He would get everything going," she said.
For nearly 14 years the band gained a following and were requested to play at weddings, funerals and various benefits including Jimmy Carter's Habitat for Humanity in East Texas.
"A lot of our success had to do with Wyley," said Bandmate Peggy Lafavers. "He had such a huge following. He was a such a good person; a minister to people, he befriended everybody."
In addition to the ESB, Chaney sang with the Top of Texas Quartet and the Atomic Garage Band. He also performed for the Route 66 Rockin' Country Nights show at the Big Texan.
"If you didn't know him, you were cheated," said RCFD Chief James Amerson.
Chaney served as the RCFD chaplain for 16 years. While Amerson joined the RCFD in 2010, he'd previously met Chaney when he served as the chaplain for the Panhandle Fireman's and Fire Marshal's Association.
"He's really been everyone's chaplain," he said. "Wyley belonged to everybody. He took care of us all."
Just nine months after his death, Amerson was emotional while speaking about Chaney.
"Like law enforcement, we see a lot of terrible things sometimes. These things will sometimes test your faith. It's good to have someone who can keep you focused correctly," he said. "The things Wyley gave us, no one can ever take away and we'll never lose them."
Chaney worked at Pantex for 43 years, with 23 of those years at the Pantex Fire Department. He was the PFFMA chaplain for 20 years. He also managed their relief fund for fallen and injured firefighters. After he retired from the RCFD, they honored him by renaming their relief fund after him.
Chaney was born and raised in Amarillo, where he met and married his wife Pegi and raised a family. The Chaney's were married for 44 years until his death.
"Family was his first priority," his daughter Apryl Mendoza said. "He was one of kind."
Mendoza said their close family often gathered for family dinners and cookouts, but her father opened his heart, home and wallet to his extended family too.
"He loved the fireman community. He wanted to make sure that he was always there to help anyone financially or spiritually or emotionally," she said. "He taught me to do my best to help others around me. He taught me to be there for people in anyway that they need you to be there."
"It's hard without him but with family, friends and church, I'm making it," his wife Pegi said. "It really touches me to hear people talk so honorably about him. It's really sweet.
"He was the kindest, most giving, honorable person."