By KATE J. CONDE
Although deputy chief Larry Thomas officially retired from the department in August 2007 after 47 years with the Edgartown Fire Department, he was honored last month.
After President Andrew Kelly spoke about his own memories growing up in the fire station for much of Chief Thomas’s career, he presented Chief Thomas with a gold clock.
Retired Chief Antone Bettencourt was given the privilege of presenting Larry with a white leather chief’s helmet. He mentioned that it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to work together with Larry all those years.
Capt. Kevin Gundersen of Engine Four recalled his own earlier days in the department, commenting on the first time Larry let him get behind the big wheel of Engine 4 to go for a drive down to Katama. Afterward he presented Chief Thomas with a gold ax on behalf of the boys of Engine 4.
For the first time in his life, Chief Thomas was speechless! Once the applause died down, he spoke about the good old days as he started his fire career with the department over on Chappaquiddick. Once on this side of the harbor, he made his way up the ladder and earned himself a seat in the office.
Chief Thomas made note of the generations of firefighters he has witnessed over the years, and said he is so pleased to see the younger ones making their own mark on this department. Congratulations on a long and accomplished career, Chief Thomas!
We were also out on the town to honor the longtime dedication of Steven Edwards of the ladder truck. President Kelly recalled that Steve has been a strong and loyal member of the department, never missing an association dinner or meeting. His devotion to our community events was without limit and his eagerness to pass out glow rings to the kids every Halloween did not go unrecognized.
With a standing ovation and applause, President Kelly presented Steve with a gold clock. Also, Steve was honored at our dinner in November by Capt. Geoff Freeman of the ladder truck. Thank you, Steve, for the many years of committed service.
As the presentations came to an end, President Kelly wrapped up by thanking everyone for being part of this celebration and reminded everyone that our beloved fire department is simply an extension of family.
Nearly 80 members of the association joined us in celebrating the long careers of Steve and Larry. In addition to the memories, guests of the party enjoyed scallops wrapped in bacon, roast beef, tomato and mozzarella skewers, freshly carved ham, jumbo shrimp, little necks and truffles for dessert.
Special thanks to Will Coogan, owner of the Wharf Restaurant, for putting together such a nice spread for us.
Senior Capt. Charlie Smith and the boys of the rescue truck did a great job of filling our plates and our stomachs at our March dinner before everyone left in a hurry to go downtown to the town meeting. Afterward, we didn’t have a quorum of our own. The fire in Tisbury that night didn’t help matters much either, so our meeting was postponed until April.
The members of the volunteer ambulance service fired up the grill to make the first dinner of spring. Barbecued ribs tipped everyone’s plate but they were quickly balanced with mashed potatoes, baked beans, veggies, salad, and hot corn bread. After this meal, we grabbed a spoon and enjoyed strawberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream and homemade ice cream cake.
A long-winded meeting followed this delicious dinner, as President Kelly and members discussed the allocation of scholarship monies. Every year the association has the good fortune of giving away scholarships to deserving high school graduates and this year we are pleased to offer an additional one. We are very excited that this will be the first year in which we will be awarding three scholarships!
President Kelly reminded everyone that the purpose of the association was to enrich the educational pursuits of our community’s youth. We also made a generous donation to the Edgartown School to support students’ trips abroad, their theater program and adventures on the Shenandoah. The members of the association are proud to provide for their community in this way.
Capt. Peter Wells thanked everyone for coming out to the recent accident on the Chappy ferry. He appreciated everyone’s efforts and the long hours we devoted.
Chief Shemeth showed everyone the new blankets, featuring the new Engine 2, which will be for sale at $35 apiece. Anyone interested in purchasing a warm blanket should call the department at 508-627-5167.
Special thanks to Sheila Trombley of Lake Wales, Fla., who thoughtfully donated a framed cross-stitch to the department. The unique handicraft took about four months to complete but will adorn our walls forever. Her son, Mike Klimek, is on Engine One and is an active emergency medical technician.
As an unknown author once said, “Hug a firefighter and feel warm all over.”