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EMS, local leaders dedicate station to honor Frank Thomason

ROCKWELL — Frank Thomason retired in 2017 as Rowan County’s emergency management chief after decades as a public servant. On Monday, dozens gathered in the county’s newest EMS station, which was named the Frank Thomason EMS Station No. 89 to honor him.

Thomason had led many of those who gathered at the ceremony through their careers, and many others worked alongside him.

Public Health Director Nina Oliver said the dedication was well-deserved.

“He is a pillar of the community and a perfect example of how a public servant should be,” Oliver said.

Oliver worked with Thomason when she handled planning and preparedness for the health department. She often reached out to him.

“I owe how I got to where I am at partly to Frank,” she said.

Oliver said when she applied for the health director position, Thomason — unbeknownst to her — wrote a letter to the Board of Health advocating for her and telling board members why they should hire her.

“I appreciate him, his friendship, servitude to the community, and overall friendly, kind and approachable demeanor,” Oliver said.

The ceremony was attended by members of the Rowan County Commission, emergency personnel, Rowan Department of Public Health staffers, the Rockwell mayor and other town officials, Rowan Department of Social Services staffers, as well as fire and EMS personnel.

“He’s one of the gems,” said County Commissioner Judy Klusman.

Tom Murphy worked alongside Thomason for many years as a fire marshal and in other capacities with the county emergency and fire divisions.

“It’s well-deserved. Frank always did so much for the county,” Murphy said.

“It’s an honor for me as his sister. He is so well-thought of by the community and the state,” said Libby Fowler, Thomason’s older sister.

Thomason began his time in local government in 1986 as a telecommunicator with the Salisbury Fire Department. He joined Rowan County government as a telecommunications shift supervisor in October 1987 before becoming the county’s first telecommunications director in 1993.

He became chief of emergency services in 2004 and held the job until his retirement.

In emotional remarks, Thomason said that getting the chance to serve in his own community was truly special.

Thomason recalled a movie in which a man who had a rewarding life stands with his family in a cemetery at the grave of another man whose life he saved years before. After a moment of reflection, the man asked his family if he was a good man and if he’d led a good life.

“Each of you, in one way or another in your own special way, has answered that question for this man standing before you today,” Thomason said.

He counted himself blessed to have been able to serve the people of his home county.

“I am so humbly honored beyond words for this recognition,” he said.

The station is on East Main Street, just beyond downtown Rockwell.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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