PRP firefighter who has overcome disability retires after 40 years


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on November 29, 2012 at 7:38 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 29 at 7:41 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Major Charles Wheatley is saying goodbye to the Pleasure Ridge Park River Port Station after 40 years of service.

WHAS11's Claudia Coffey spent time with him on his last day as he reminisced about his time at the department and the disability he has overcome,  to do what he calls the most important job of his life.

"I really don't know what to say. I am of very few words. All I can do is say thank you," Major Charles Wheatley said to a group on Thursday.

He spoke to a group of firefighters on his final day with the Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Department. He set an example that many can only dream of.

"And you know within yourself, when your body and your mind, there's something that tells you it's time," Wheatley said.

Major Wheatley started back in 1973 as a radio dispatcher and worked his way up . He says he just knew in his heart that it was time to go.

"I have been through the tornadoes, I have been through the busing. I have been through just about anything that's happened out here in Jefferson County," Wheatley said.

Wheatley also been a loyal supporter of the Crusade for Children. He has Cerebral Palsy and walks with braces and crutches, the Crusade has always been close to his heart.

Chief Vincent Smith has known Wheatley since he was five-years-old. Smith admires Wheatley as a friend.

"When they look at Charlie they realize that he has a disability . But it has not stopped him from doing anything he wanted to do in his life," Smith said.

Wheatley says it's tough to say goodbye. But he has his memories and his good friends.

"This is another chapter in my life. This one is closing but I am going to be opening another one," Wheatley said.

Major Wheatley says he plans to spend some vacation time in Florida with his family before deciding what he will do next.  The department will honor Major Wheatley at a banquet on December 8.