Responding to accolades for his decades of dedicated community service, long-serving firefighter Robert McKinney (left foreground) defers credit to others. He made his comments during a ceremony July 15 naming him and the late Wade Earl as first citizens to be commemorated in the Lake George firefighting ‘Walk of Honor.’
Hailing McKinney in the surprise award ceremony were (rear, left to right): Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson, Fire Association of the State of NY (FASNY) CEO David Quinn, FASNY Firefighting Museum Executive Director Jamie Quinn, Lake George Mayor Bob Blais, and Barbara McKinney McGuirk, president of the Lake George Fire Department.
Photo by Thom Randall.
continued Robert McKinney, now 78, has served the Lake George Fire Co. for 47 years, much of that time in various offices including Assistant Chief, Secretary, Vice President and Director.
McKinney and Earl served for consecutive decades on the of both FASNY board of directors and as a trustee overseeing the FASNY firefighters’ home in Hudson NY, which serves up to 90 elderly firefighters hailing from across New York State.
FASNY’s CEO David Quinn said that Earl and McKinney had served the state’s citizenry with remarkable dedication.
“They broke the mold after these two men were made,” he said.
Jamie Quinn, a FASNY official who heads up the agency’s Museum of Firefighting, said McKinney had been like a “father figure” who guided the museum board through some troubled times years ago, and the facility rebounded due to his advice.
Wayde Earl’s widow, Margaret “Peg” Earl, 90, witnessed the Walk of Honor ceremony and offered her thoughts. She has been a member of the local fire company Auxiliary for 50 or 60 years.
“It’s really nice when your own people recognize you,” she said on behalf of her late husband. At a reception that followed, she recalled how their family life revolved around fire service.
“When the fire whistle blew, Wayde and our sons John and Earl would always race to get to the firehouse — they’d make it into a contest,” she said, noting that Wayde was the first president of the fire company when it became incorporated.
She also said, rolling her eyes, that Wayde had accumulated so many plaques, citations and trophies for his fire service that they enclosed their porch to hold them all — along with his beloved circus memorabilia.
Their son Todd, who has served in the Lake George Fire Department for 25 years —including several years as Fire Chief — recalled his father’s dedication. Just a matter of hours before Wayde Earl died in his sleep at the age of 89, he was out in Shepard Park selling raffle tickets to benefit the fire company, Todd Earl said.