BENWOOD, W.Va. – (WTRF) Those who knew him agree that longtime Benwood Fire Chief Mike Smith will certainly be missed.

The former fire chief passed away on Monday.

***Gov. Justice comments on the passing of Benwood Fire Chief***

Family and friends have been gathering at the firehouse following the news of the chief’s passing.

They feel comfort in gathering at the firehouse to mourn Chief Mike Smith, or Big Mike, as they called him.

The chief served for 64 years as a firefighter in Benwood, 54 of those years as the fire chief.

There are so many stories to tell according to his family.

For example, his son-in-law Lou Richmond, says he was known to drop whatever he was doing at the time, even a family birthday party once, to go out on a call because that’s the kind of dedicated man he was.

He received numerous achievements throughout his career and was even presented with The Distinguished West Virginian Award back in 2017 by Governor Jim Justice.

This award is the highest award a citizen can receive for their service.

They are remembering what a wonderful person he was, how he adored his family and how he loved serving the community where he lived.

Chief Smith’s niece, Paula Smith says, “A lot of people called him chief and that’s what everybody is going to miss going down the street down here from the fire station where he lived. He was always on his porch, always had a smile, always had a cup of coffee, always had a crew on his porch to carry on conversation with him and that’s going to be missed.”

According to Richmond, “His heart was one that not too many people have. He didn’t hold grudges. He didn’t have an enemy. He would just do anything for anyone and it didn’t matter the time, day or night, and if you needed him he would be there for you.”

The fire department has a plan to honor Chief Smith during his funeral.

A dispatcher will call his number, 1310, and after a moment of silence, the dispatcher will then announce it was the chief’s last call.

He was 81 years old.