The Crozet Volunteer Fire Department began its 2009 awards dinner at the Elks Club in Charlottesville March 14 on a solemn note as Mark Carlson led their five-member honor guard, all at attention and with grave dignity in their expressions. He rang a bell to honor the memory of two life members of the department who died in 2008, Roger Lee Baber Sr. and Ray Page “Pete” McCauley. Glen Fink, dressed in a Scot’s Highland plaid kilt, then played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes with all the melancholy that instrument can convey.
The department had bought the silver bell, symbolic to firemen from the early days of organized departments, for just such occasions.
CVFD President Preston Gentry presented Community Service Awards to The Green Olive Tree, a steady and substantial contributor to the CVFD. Nancy Virginia Bain accepted on behalf of the thrift store, which will mark its 30th anniversary with a community reception on Saturday, April 25, at Crozet United Methodist Church from 1 to 4 p.m.
Pam Garrison accepted an award on behalf of WCYK 99.7 FM and another award was made to the Charlottesville Newsplex, broadcasters of TV stations WAHU 27 (FOX), WCAV 19 (CBS) and WVAW 16 (ABC).
Carroll Conley accepted an award on behalf of J. Bruce Barnes, Inc., which was recognized for its longstanding policy of allowing employees who are also volunteer firefighters to leave the lumberyard to answer emergency calls during work hours. The Western Albemarle Rescue Squad was also thanked for its brotherly bonds with the CVFD and for its friendly assistance at fire and car accident scenes.
Local attorney Nicholas Munger also received a community service award for his professional help to the department over the last three decades.
Chief Hubba, (whose name is recorded in official records as Warren Wood) presented a “Finding Nemo” award to Adam Shifflett, who, thankfully, narrowly escaped drowning after he fell asleep at the wheel one night a while driving home and drove into the pond opposite Maupin’s Fruit Stand on Rt. 250. He was given a pair of swimming goggles. A special award also went to Doug McGlothin for his selflessness to the department.
Gentry said it was hard to choose recipients for the President’s Awards, which go to volunteers for service beyond the call of duty, because, he acknowledged, “everybody gives what they can.” The awards went to Glen Fink and Tom Loach, who, Gentry noted, is also in training to become an Albemarle County sheriff’s deputy.
Chief Bubba Baber presented awards to Jeff Bodine, who answered more than 400 calls last year, and Pete Oprandy.
The Firefighter of the Year Award, which is customarily introduced with a slideshow biography of the recipient, went to Roger Lee Baber Sr. posthumously. Gentry called all the life members present, about 18, to come forward and stand as a rank for the presentation. The slide show called Baber “Crozet’s bantam rooster” and Garth Brooks’ song The Dance was played as slides of Baber at various ages cycled by. Five members of his family came forward to accept the plaque and in a hushed, poignant scene hugs and handshakes were exchanged. Baber’s wife Faye had stayed home rather than face that moment.
Then the awards portion of the evening concluded and the dance party began.
Charlottesville volunteers covered the Crozet firehouse while Crozet’s firefighters met for the annual event.