‘You cannot replace Wayne ever’: Blacksburg community mourns loss of beloved firefighter

Wayne Garst was a family man who loved serving his community

He died suddenly earlier this week

BLACKSBURG, Va. – It was a hero’s escort as fire trucks, police cars and emergency vehicles carried Wayne Garst from Carilion Memorial Hospital, past his home, to his final resting place.

His longtime friend and fellow firefighter John Cromer rode in the same ambulance.

“It’s hard when you lose people you fought with in fires and we’ve cheated death time and time and time again, so it’s hard when you lose someone you’re that close with,” said Cromer.

Garst was a member of the Blacksburg Fire Department since 1984. He first served as a volunteer, then a code official and became of the first two paid firefighters in Blacksburg in 2007. He retired in 2020 and came back as a volunteer.

“Wayne is just like any other volunteer, whether it’s here in Blacksburg or some small town in southwest Virginia, you do it for the love of the community. And even this word doesn’t describe Wayne in total, but he was a dedicated public servant,” added Cromer.

He also worked at Valley Auctions in the New River Valley as an auctioneer. His personality and enthusiasm made him a crowd favorite.

“Always happy, always full of energy. Always fired up the crowd. Known for his jokes. Wayne was the total package,” said April Mount who worked with him at Valley Auctions.

Above all, Garst was a family man. He leaves behind his daughters Emily and Katie, his wife Alison and her children Vickie and Connor.

“You cannot replace Wayne ever. He was a wonderful father, a wonderful husband, he’s the greatest friend you could ever hope to have,” added Mount.

About the Author:

Alyssa Rae grew up in Roanoke and graduated from Virginia Tech. An avid sports fan, she spent her first 8 years in TV as a sports anchor and reporter.