BRANT LAKE The Horicon Fire Department has celebrated a 50-year member before, but they recently celebrated 50-year couple.
Bob Newton joined the department on Dec. 4, 1956, and remains an active member today. His wife, Gert, joined the auxiliary as a charter member a few months later and is also still an active member.
I joined the fire department because a lot of the young guys in town were in it and I wanted to go out and fight fires, Bob said. I remember my first fire, it was a brush fire on May 5, 1957.
Gert and Bob had married shortly before, and after he joined the fire department, she helped bring food and water to firefighters when they were out on a call.
We decided to form our own auxiliary and our first meeting was in June of 1957, she said. Since he was a fireman, I wanted to be a part of the auxiliary.
Robert said as a firefighter, he knows how much it means to have food and water brought to the scene.
Sometimes wed get a call at 2 or 3 a.m., he said.
Bob was honored at a ceremony a few months ago, and received proclamations from state Sen. Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward along with a flag from Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrands office that had flown over the Capitol.
The couple had four children, Benny, Greta Tod and Sherry. Bob worked as a ranger at Camp Read from 1969 until he retired in 1997. Gert stayed at home with the kids for several years and then worked at Point of Pines for 18 years and the Chestertown laundry for 10.
There is a lot more equipment now, said Bob. And the training is a corker. We just had one Chevy truck back then, and wed learn by doing.
Gert said that the auxiliary is pretty much the same today as it was 50 years ago.
We have 18 volunteers and we bring them water and food when they have a call, she said.
Over the years, working together for the fire department and auxiliary has had its ups and downs.
Sometimes I thought it might split us up, Bob said. But it probably kept us close.