POCONO TWP., Pa. - A fire department in the Poconos is mourning the loss of a legend, a firefighter who served for 74 years.
The Pocono Township Fire Department's summer carnival is a yearly tradition in Monroe County, but inside the station there are heavy hearts.
"He was like a big father figure," said Chief Mike Shay.
Shay and his crew are mourning the loss of Dick Howell, a firefighter who served the department for three quarters of a century.
"We were organized in 1940," said Shay. "He wasn't a charter member. He joined just after that."
In their mid 80s most people are enjoying retirement. Dick Howell didn't know the meaning of the word.
"He was still active until I was probably 13, 14 years old, so that would put him about 80, 85, 86?", said Howell's grandson Cody Clark, who followed him into fire service.
Shay said, along with the personal loss, the Tannersville-area community has lost a link to its history.
"He would have stories from back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s -- and we don't have a lot of people left that know that information, that history," he said.
Inside the station sits the original engine from when the Pocono Township Fire Department was formed in 1940. On Monday morning, that same truck that will take Dick Howell to his final resting place.
Howell battled with Alzheimer's and later Parkinson's for the past few years, but up until his last day, he begged to come to the carnival.
"He would come out, walk around, make sure everybody was having a good time," said Shay.
Clark added: "It was very ironic that he passed away the week of the carnival because it was his favorite week of the year."
This year, like every year, the show will go on -- but now, without its biggest -- and oldest -- fan.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Berks Tim Lind / 69 News