Friday, October 6, 2000
Carlisle firefighters honor longtime veterans
On Sunday, October 1, the Carlisle Firefighters' Relief Association held a special service to honor six 20-year veteran Carlisle firefighters with the dedication of grave markers. The ceremony was held in the recently restored Wilson Chapel at Green Cemetery. Honored at the dedication were Waldo D. Wilson (Fire Chief, 1927-1978), Richard B. Bates, Jr. (Firefighter, 1947-1980), Carl G. Swanson (Firefighter, 1946-1979), Edward J. Clark (Firefighter, 1936-1968), George W. Foss (Firefighter, 1941-1958 and Deputy Chief, 1958-1969) and Joseph F. Macone (Firefighter, 1951-1978).
Seventy-five family members and retired and current firefighters were present, including ten who have served over 20 years. The 20-year veterans present included retired members: Firefighter/EMT Richard F. Foulke (23 years), Captain Richard O. Metivier (35 years), Firefighters Francis Booth (38 years) and David Booth (26 years) and Dispatcher Esther Wilson (52 years). Current members included Fire Chief Robert J. Koning (39 years), Deputy Chief David R. Flannery (31 years), Captain Jonathan C. White (32 years) and Firefighters David Duren (38 years) and Robert Dennison (26 years). Four other retired members with 20 years of service were unable to attend: Samuel Parisi (29 years), Kenneth Duren, Jr.(28 years), Herbert Bates (26 years) and Roger Davis (23 years).
Each of the families of the men honored was pleased to learn of the grave-marker dedications, and many were able to attend the service. Attending were Waldo Wilson's wife Esther and daughters, Sarah (Wilson) Andreassen, Mary (Wilson) Gillespie; children of Richard Bates Jr., Lelia (Bates) Barrington, Janet (Bates) Kennedy and Richard B. Bates III; Edward Clark's daughter Susan Putonen; George Foss's niece Beverly (Foss) Burak. From the Macone family were Mrs. Helen Macone, Joseph Macone's widow, her son John Macone and daughter Nancy Macone.
One guest, Esther Wilson, 97, wife of the late Waldo D. Wilson, was given special recognition. Esther provided tremendous service to the town and department out of her home from 1927 to 1979 as the sole operator of the communications call system. The Wilson Chapel was a gift to the Town of Carlisle by Waldo Wilson's grandfather, Capt. Horace Wilson in 1906 in memory of his father and mother. It was interesting to learn that Waldo Wilson turned the first earth for the construction of the chapel at the age of six. The ceremonial shovel remains on display in the chapel today. Chief Wilson's grave is directly in front of the chapel.
The hour-long service included an extensive historical commentary on fire protection in Carlisle from 1754 through 1979. Deputy Chief David Flannery described the evolution of protection from fire, using bucket brigades and horse-drawn wagons, to modified Model T engines and finally to the 3500 gallon tankers of today. He described both the changes and the continuity in four key requirements of the fire protection program. First are the firefighters; people willing to volunteer and to be there every time a call comes. Second, the alerting system to notify the firefighters and the town of emergency calls, which evolved from a fire horn to electronic pagers. The third requirement, the water supply, and fourth, the ability to move water which also have evolved, from a dependence on local water holes to the acquisition of different tanker vehicles. Flannery's historical presentation kept everyone engrossed in the evolution of firefighting through the years, with descriptions of the general fear and danger of forest fires in the early 1900s and a major event in Carlisle's history when fire threatened the center of town in 1925.
One of the early needs in fire protection was for organization and leadership. These developed significantly throughout the years thanks to the men honored at this service. The commitment of individuals to serve, while dedicating themselves to helping those in need, was evident. The commitment and dedication of the past and current firefighters was commemorated by the reading of the Firefighter Prayer. Organist Steven James Weibley played selections from period hymns on the restored pre-1900s pump organ from a hymnal found in the Wilson Chapel (ca. 1905). The chapel service concluded with words from Rev. Keith Greer, Carlisle firefighter from 1978-1997.
The grave marker dedications began with a presentation to the family of Joseph Macone, who is buried in Maine. Then the Carlisle firefighters along with an honor guard led the guests to a short dedication at each of the five gravesites. Captain Jonathan White shared stories at each site, the bronze grave marker and flag were placed, and family members and friends placed flowers at the graves.
A reception was held at the Carlisle Fire Station following the ceremony. Department members, retirees and guests spent a beautiful October afternoon reminiscing, sharing stories, taking photographs, and enjoying refreshments.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito