01/18/06 — Howell honored as top local firefighter

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Howell honored as top local firefighter

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on January 18, 2006 1:47 PM

Jack Howell, a firefighter for almost 40 years and a chief for almost 20, was honored with the Wayne County Firemen's Association highest award.

Howell, the chief of the Oakland Volunteer Fire Department on two occasions, on Tuesday night received the G. Edgar Summerlin Award during the association's annual banquet at Lane Tree Golf Club.

Stephanie Smith of Antioch was honored as the auxiliary woman member of the year. The new auxiliary treasurer, she is the daughter-in-law of June Smith, the longtime president of the auxiliary.

Jack Howell, firefighter of the year

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

Oakland Fire Chief Jack Howell, right, shows his G. Edgar Summerlin Award for being chose the fireman of the year with Steve Bryan, the new president of the Wayne County Firemen's Association.

David Watson, a fire prevention officer at Conover and a Baptist minister, delivered the keynote address, emphasizing the need for all to love one another and to remember how the nation felt after it was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

In presenting the top honor, Shelton Edgerton, the committee chairman and a past Summerlin Award winner, said Howell quietly did his job, maintaining a positive outlook despite a demanding work schedule. He called Howell an excellent role model. Howell retired last year as service manager after 36 years with Textilease.

Howell paid tribute to his wife, Carolyn, for his success in the fire service.

"They always say that it takes a good wife to be a good fireman," Howell said. "It takes an especially good wife to put up with a chief. She is very special."

Howell gets his interest in the fire service naturally. His father and his brother were firefighters, his uncle, Wesley, was the Goldsboro chief and his wife's father was a chief.

"I'm the oldest active firefighter in Oakland," Howell said. "I enjoy it, I enjoy being in the association. I encourage you to join. ... I appreciate this. ... You can be no better than the fire department lets you, and you can be no better than the association lets you be."

New officers of the association and the auxiliary were installed by Pam Minshew, an assistant clerk of court.

The new association officers are President Steve Bryan of Jordans Chapel, Vice President Curtis Stafford of Nahunta, Secretary-Treasurer David Hollingsworth of Belfast and Chaplain Mike Aycock of Little River.

Bryan became the first association president from his department in 31 years. The last was Dwight Rose in 1974.

"I have big shoes to fill," Bryan said after accepting the gavel from the outgoing president, Phil Shivar of Indian Springs.

Shivar said the association had much to be proud of in Wayne County and added that the commissioners had been good to the fire service.

The new auxiliary officers are President June Smith of Antioch, Vice President Joan Williams of Arrington, Secretary Kathy Carmack of Arrington, Treasurer Stephanie Smith of Antioch and Chaplain Sue Turner of Saulston.

Watson said firefighters sacrifice for people they do not know.

"God instilled in us that love," he said. "That's the reason we sacrifice. We get up in the middle of the night when the alarm goes off."

Watson urged the firefighters to tell their spouses that they love them when they are toned out to a call.

"This world has forgotten how to love," he said. "I beg of you tonight to think about each other, to express love."

Watson said that 9-11 brought forth one of the largest outpourings of love. He showed a video program on the disaster, the funerals and the response. Then he asked why Americans are not showing love now.

Watson issued a final challenge to the audience: Tell someone, a veteran, a firefighter and his wife or a county official, that you love them.

The reigning Fire Princess, Danielle Rose, who represented Thoroughfare, performed her fire prevention skit.

Annual perfect attendance awards were presented to 16 departments, and relief fund checks were presented to qualifying departments. Shivar introduced guests, including numerous area politicians. Chaplain Aycock offered the invocation and pronounced the benediction.