WESTPORT - Friends and family of longtime Westport resident Homer Estus gathered at the Town Hall Feb. 3 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his acceptance into Westport's volunteer fire department. In attendance were his wife, the former Joyce Keith, a Westport native, and their sons Glenn, Lawrence, and Bruce, as well as relatives from Bristol, Vt.
Members of the Westport and Wadhams fire departments marked the occasion with dress uniforms, and representatives from Moriah, Essex, and Peru fire departments were also present. Certificates of appreciation were presented to Estus for his service from a number of officials, including State Assemblywoman Theresa Sayward, Essex County Sheriff Henry Hommes, and Essex County emergency services director Donald Jaquish.
Westport Supervisor Dan Connell read a resolution of appreciation on behalf of the Town Board, and Westport Fire Chief Jim Westover, Jr. presented Estus with a gold watch and a plaque expressing the department's gratitude.
Westport firefighter Ernie LaPine, who emceed the event, told the assembled crowd, "It's wonderful to see so many people here. That tells us how highly respected Homer Estus is this community, and how much we value his years of dedicated service."
Estus was born in Monckton, Vt., and resided in Crown Point and Essex, where he also served as a firefighter for three years before moving to Westport in 1947. He and his wife recently marked their 63rd wedding anniversary. They first met on the excursion boat Ticonderoga, she recalled, and then ran into each other the following weekend at a square dance at the Whallonsburgh Grange.
Despite some recent health problems, Estus, who will celebrate his eighty-first birthday on Feb. 23, has kept up a remarkably active role in the fire department. As the department's chief fundraiser, for many years he organized its signature event, the annual oyster dinner.
Estus joked with presenters throughout the ceremony. Then, on a serious note, he thanked the presenters and the audience for their recognition.
"I always enjoyed working with you," he said, "and I hope to go on working with you a little longer."
In describing how his colleagues in the fire department feel about Estus, LaPine settled on one telling detail that says it all: "Homer Estus is the only member to have a parking spot reserved in his name at the firehouse."