The Valley has lost its fair share of heroes in recent weeks.
Nick Fowler, the longtime firefighter and leader at Riverside borough’s Southside Fire Company died Dec. 31. Since then, the Valley has also lost Middleburg Police Chief Tony Jordan, long-time Freeburg firefighter Chester Bingaman and Dauntless Hook & Ladder firefighter Stanley Ettinger.
Family, friends and members of fire departments have gathered too many times in recent weeks with representatives from fire departments throughout the Susquehanna Valley to honor these leaders.
Many of these selfless individuals, had service in their blood. Montour County Commissioner Trevor Finn said Fowler’s dad, grandfather and uncle were all firefighters.
“Chester’s life revolved around his willingness to serve,” said former Freeburg Fire Chief Tom Wallish of Bingaman who died on Jan. 13 at the age of 79.
“He was the top call runner. He’d be the first to put his boots on,” said Ettinger’s nephew and DH&L assistant fire chief, Jason Kaufman.
Nearly all firefighters in the Valley are volunteers. They get no compensation for responding when there’s a four-alarm fire when they could be at a family birthday party or when they scramble and race to what ends up being a false alarm at 3 a.m.
They are devoted to community, to keeping their neighbors and their neighbors’ property safe.
The same thing can be said of Jordan. He was a member of Middleburg’s police department for more than 40 years and chief since 1992.
Friends and colleagues called him a mentor and father-figure, someone who steered many in the Valley into law enforcement.
He also always had the small-town police chief vibe, the required sternness yet the ability to make a difference in someone’s life.
“He was a mentor, a teacher and a friend,” said Snyder County Sheriff Deputy Ross Mitchell, who started his career as a part-time officer in Middleburg under Jordan. “He was stern and to the point, but forgiving. He touched a lot of lives.”
People like Fowler, Jordan, Bingaman, Ettinger and others are the glue that keeps small communities like ours together and provide the fuel to keep it running.
We cannot thank them enough for what they gave to our Valley.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard and News Editor Eric Pehowic.