Brickerville Fire Company honors Wilbur May for 68 years of service

By on June 30, 2015

Brickerville volunteer firefighter Wilbur “Willy” May has served his community for most of his life &tstr; for 68 years. He began serving when he was 19 years old, in 1947.

That year Harry Truman was president, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier while flying the Bell X-1, and Jackie Robinson broke racial barriers by signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

That was also the year the Brickerville Volunteer Fire Company was formed. May arrived at the meeting too late to sign the official charter document, but he’s been involved from the very beginning.

May joined up when volunteers came around asking “if this was something I’d like to do, and I did,” he grinned.

May recently received a commendation from Pennsylvania Sen. Ryan Aument for his 68 years of service.

“I framed it and have it hanging above my jelly cupboard,” May smiled.

When he first joined the Brickerville volunteers, May drove the 1947 International Fire Truck to many calls for assistance.

“I drove to calls on the turnpike a lot of times,” he said. “We’d spray 300 gallons (of water), go and refill, and then spray again. We still have that truck.”

May held various positions in the fire company, including engineer (pump operator) and president. Now he’s chairman of the bingo committee. The Tuesday evening games raise tens of thousands of dollars each year to support the fire company.

Some of his more memorable fire calls were at Greenley’s, now Fox’s Country Sheds along Route 322; at Martin’s Country Market and Galen’s of Ephrata on 322 near Lincoln; as well as a number of all-night barn fires.

May’s first wife, Arlene, was active in the fire company’s ladies auxiliary. He was widowed and later met his second wife, Pat, also widowed, while they were both working with Brickerville Ambulance.

May’s aunt Libby, his daughter and son-in-law, as well as two cousins, have also been members of the fire company. “And a lot of friends. A lot of good friends here have passed,” he added.

May is now more than 80 years old.

“I’m retired from going on fire calls because the insurance company hollers if you’re too old.”

May was born in Clay Township, “just down the hill” from Brickerville, and then “lived in Rothsville for a couple months, and in Brunnerville for a couple months, until I found a place in Elizabeth Township.”

Melinda S. Elmer is a freelance reporter and feature writer who covers the Elizabeth Township beat for the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback and story ideas at elmermm@dejazzd.com.

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