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MAY 2 , 2001


Lawrence Road Fire Co.

On the evening of Wednesday, May 2, 2001, the volunteers of Lawrence Road Fire Co. hosted the annual Mercer County’s Firemen’s Association Memorial Service.

To prepare for the service, Lawrence Road firefighters decorated the firehouse banquet hall. A dozen tables, with more than 100 chairs, were set up around the hall for guests. Linen and cutlery were provided by Past President James Yates. Lawrence Road’s antique hose cart and a podium, decorated with a Lawrence Road maltese cross designed and painted by Ff. Shaun Dlabik, were placed before the guests’ tables. On either side of the hose cart and podium were arranged other tables, on top of which were placed helmets from the various Mercer County fire companies. All but three or four fire companies loaned helmets for the display.

The service began at 8 p.m. when Marvin Lesser, president of the Mercer County Firemen’s Association, called the crowd to order. So many firefighters, ladies auxiliary members and other guests from throughout Mercer County attended that some were forced to stand along the back walls during the service.

Capt. Gary Wasko, Ff. Edward Kitchen and Ff. Michael Byrd, wearing their full honor guard uniforms, then marched into the hall carrying an American flag and the flag of the Mercer County Firemen’s Association.

After the colors were presented, President Michael Ratcliffe welcomed everyone on behalf of all the members of Lawrence Road Fire Co. He also introduced Chief John Fleming. Father Vincent Gartland, pastor of St. Ann’s Church, then stepped forward to give the invocation.

The ladies auxiliary memorial roll was then begun. Viki Cummings, president of the county ladies auxiliary association, read off the names of the 29 auxiliary members who had passed away since May 2000, including Myrtle Ruth Baker, a past president of Lawrence Road Fire Co. Ladies Auxiliary who died March 19, 2001.

As each name was read, Byrd rang Lawrence Road’s memorial bell and Ann Looney, Ratcliffe’s girlfriend, representing Lawrence Road’s ladies, placed a flower in a large styrofoam maltese cross memorial.

After the ladies auxiliary roll was concluded, Lesser read off the names of 42 firefighters who had passed away in the last year, including Lawrence Road Life-Member Steve J. Stanzione who died November 26, 2000. (Both Past President and Life Member Frederick B. Goldsborough, who died September 30, 2000, and Warren M. Groover Jr., a Life Member and Past Assistant Chief who died April 11, 2001, both were omitted from the list by accident.)

As each firefighter’s name was read, Byrd tolled the memorial bell and Fleming placed a flower on the maltese cross memorial.

After the firefighters roll ended, Ratcliffe returned to the podium to present the memorial address. Ratcliffe spoke briefly on the history of Mercer County’s fire service and reminded those in the crowd never to forget the sacrifices and contributions made by the deceased firefighters and ladies auxiliary members.

Father Gartland then presented the benediction and Lawrence Road’s honor guard members retired the colors.

After the service concluded, Lawrence Road firefighters served their guests a tasty meal of pasta and meatballs that had been prepared in the banquet hall’s kitchen by Yates, Vice President Andrew Fosina and a group of other volunteers.

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