A collage of memories, posted to Facebook by the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department.

A collage of memories, posted to Facebook by the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department.

First responder and tow truck celebrity remembered in Princeton

Phil Renaud was a highway rescue volunteer, volunteer firefighter, and Highway Thru Hell personality

Phil Renaud went to the hall, one last time.

And there were hundreds of people waiting to embrace him.

A celebration of life for Renaud – volunteer, popular businessman and television personality – was held at the Princeton Volunteer Fire Hall Monday.

He arrived, as seemed appropriate, on the back of his tow truck.

Renaud’s ashes were carried into the fire hall by his son Chris, surrounded by an honour guard of Agassiz firefighters and followed by his family.

RCMP in Red Serge, representatives from several area fire departments, colleagues from Princeton Highway Rescue, Legion members, local dignitaries and a crowd of friends attended.

The street was closed to allow for parking more than a dozen trucks and rescue vehicles.

Renaud’s turn out gear – he was both a Princeton firefighter and a member of the highway rescue squad – was arranged solemnly at the front of the room.

Poppies were distributed and a white cross was placed near photos of Renaud.

According to Legion Chaplin Sandra Lawlor, that funereal honour is reserved for veterans and first responders.

“He was one of the most genuine and loving people,” said Lawlor. “Whenever a call went out for help he would be the first person there. He also gave the best hugs.”

Renaud died November 6, following a short illness, according to his brother Paul.

“Ask him to do anything and he would do it,” he said. “He would do anything for anybody and if there was ever a crisis he would be there.”

Renaud spent a lifetime responding to people in need.

“When he was a teenager even, he was on the rescue squad,” said Paul.

Born in Smith Falls Ontario, Renaud held a series of positions in the towing industry, before making regular appearances on the television program Highway Through Hell.

He began managing Mario’s Towing in Princeton about five years ago when he also joined the local volunteer squads.

Chris, who is an Agassiz firefighter and a B.C. paramedic, said his father help to form his own path in life.

“Definitely, just growing up watching him helping people.”

When asked to describe what Renaud loved most in life Chris was quick to respond.

“Family. And he loved being outside camping, and he would hate to admit it but he loved to travel.”

After a pause, Chris added: ‘Oh yes he loved trucks, and towing.”

Renaud is also survived by his wife Brenda and seven siblings, as well as a granddaughter.

Following the service at the hall, Renaud’s ashes were conveyed by his fellow first responders to a Princeton fire truck and driven through town, one last time.

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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