Wives share their firefighter stories

While this past year I have been interviewing each of our volunteer firefighters with the Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department in an effort to introduce them to our neighbors and the rest of the community, I would be remiss if I didn't take the time to offer thanks to the wives, significant others and remaining family members that are the backbone of any volunteer organization. Without the support of family, the volunteers would not be able to be effective and the system would not run as smoothly as it does.

After the annual Bar-B-Q Dinner and Dance that was held on July 8, the wives got together to do thank-you letters to the many community clubs and organizations that were generous with their donations of items for raffles, silent auction and other necessities for the event. Carol Hill, Barb Twichell, Connie Wenhold, Debbie Babcock, Vera Gesselman, April Hughes and DeAnne Hoogestraat also discussed what worked and didn't work and made suggestions for changes to implement for next year's barbecue, which will be held on the second Saturday in July.

Once the business was settled, they were able to relax and share some of their stories of being married to a volunteer firefighter. Everyone agreed that they need to be "very tolerant and flexible because we might be going (to a planned event such as dinner, parties, etc.) alone if the call comes in before you get out the door." Debbie Babcock told of the time when she, John and their children were camping at Topaz Lake one weekend in June 1996.

"A call came in and John said he thought he needed to go to check on the 'small incident' and wouldn't be gone long. Once he got there, it turned out to be the Autumn Hills fire which destroyed several homes at the base of Kingsbury Grade. Here we were stuck with no vehicle and no money.

"You definitely have to be self-sufficient in emergencies," she continued with a slight chuckle. "We also need to be supportive and let them talk it out when they return from a severe incident that resulted in fatalities," they all agreed.

"Families take a back seat to public service," Vera Gesselman explained as the others nodded their heads. "You become very aware of your surroundings and the needs of your neighbors. We are part of a great family that look out for each other and are supportive of the kids - we've watched them all grow up and become volunteers - public servants," the group chimed in harmony. DeAnne Hoogestraat, Connie Wenhold and April Hughes all have children that have grown up and followed in their father's footsteps in our department.

Over the years, they have done different activities such as caroling at Christmas and making crafts for the kids.

"The night before the barbecue, we get together for a corn-shucking party and have pizza before making the Jell-O shooters and pack the coolers with sodas and make sure the beer wagons are working," Carol Hill shared.

Sounds like a lot of fun. Can't wait 'til next year's event!

Carol Hill wanted to add a special, heartfelt thank you to all the women for their help with the annual dinner and dance.

"You are what makes it worthwhile!"

I would also like to thank each of you for letting me join in your meeting as well as for your behind-the-scenesÐbut-not-forgotten support and service to our neighborhood and community.

Have a ramblin' good week.

n To reach Gail Davis, e-mail hilltopranch97@charter.net or call 265-1947.


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