Fire chief leaves legacy of service
by Michelle Babcock
March 29, 2014 04:00 AM | 3456 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Plymale
Bill Plymale
After decades of serving Cherokee County residents as a firefighter and later a minister, William “Bill” Plymale, 56, lost his battle with cancer on Monday.

A celebration of the Acworth resident’s life is scheduled for today at 2 p.m. at Woodstock First Baptist Church.

Plymale served his God and his community, first as a firefighter for more than 20 years, and later, after becoming an ordained minister, as the minister of job assistance at First Baptist Church of Woodstock.

Cherokee County Fire Chief Tim Prather said Plymale gave more than 23 years of his life to serve residents in Cherokee, beginning his career in 1981 and retiring as a battalion chief.

“Chief Plymale was already a lieutenant with the Oak Grove Fire Department when my career began in 1987 and was the A-shift company officer,” Prather said. “Chief Plymale was a good command officer that was always ‘watching out’ for his personnel when working in danger.”

Prather said Plymale was adamant about making sure his firefighters received the best training and was great at coaching junior officers.

“He allowed them more opportunities than most to actually lead and make decisions while observing, but remained available if needed,” Prather said of Plymale’s work as a leader in fire services.

When Plymale retired and became a minister, he was known to many as Pastor Bill.

“He retired in 2004 to take a more active role in his church, serving God,” Prather said. “Bill Plymale has been an inspiration to many and will be missed by his fire family.”

Guy Sharlow was in sixth grade when he met Plymale and used to travel to Atlanta to minister to people in a homeless shelter along with Plymale, he said.

“I first met him doing Church on the Street,” Sharlow said. “At that time, he was the pastor down there (in downtown Atlanta).”

Sharlow, who has lived in Canton and Acworth, said “Pastor Bill” inspired many to share the Gospel and led many homeless people to accept God and turn their lives around.

“Many people turned away from a life of crime, and it’s changed their life, because of him,” Sharlow said. “One of the biggest lessons I learned from Pastor Bill is that if you care for people, you’ll find that your life is much easier and happier.”

Sharlow said the fact the Plymale was firefighter “hugely” impacts his own desire to become an EMT.

“It definitely gives me more inspiration to continue on that path,” he said. “It’s definitely an example to look up to.”

Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services will fly flags at half-staff across the county in remembrance of Plymale, who inspired and helped many throughout his life.

Plymale is survived by his wife, Sharon Plymale, and two daughters, Sandra McArthur and Courtney Roberts.

Woodstock Funeral Home is handling the funeral arrangements, and online condolences can be posted at

Dr. Jim Law and the Rev. Allan Taylor will officiate the ceremony, with interment to follow at Rolling Hills Cemetery in Acworth.
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