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 “My dad carried through his commitment to fire service as long as he could move,” he said. Todd’s brother John Earl has served for 45 years in the local fire company, fulfilling the duties of Fire Chief from 1979 to 1983. He’s also now Deputy Mayor of the village. Their sister Nancy has been active in the Auxiliary for 25 years or more.
Prior to move to Lake George in 1966, McKinney served in the West Glens Falls Fire Co. for nearly a dozen years. In the mid-1990s, McKinney served as a town board member, and he has been bestowed with a number of firefighting honors, including Hudson Valley Firemen’s Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the agency’s first ever granted. He was also named 1992 Lake George Citizen of the Year by the village board.
Like his cohort Wayde, Robert McKinney’s family life was immersed in fire service, recalled his daughter Barbara McKinney McGuirk, who was named the local fire department’s first female president in its lengthy history. She also is a recruiting official for FASNY.
“Growing up, our social life revolved around the fire company,” she said, noting that as children, she and her siblings started off by selling raffle tickets. “Those were the very best years — we had a ton of fun.”
Barbara’s mother (and Bob’s wife) Marie served 50 years in the fire company Auxiliary, and sister Joan Sady, now clerk for the Warren County Board of Supervisors, has also been active in the fire service.
Brother Thomas McKinney is past chief of the fire department, and is now Secretary — and he’s followed in his father’s footsteps as a Trustee of the FASNY firefighters’ home. Sister Patty McKinney Schuster is Secretary of the Auxiliary, and sister Donna McKinney Engle is also an active member. Various McKinney grandchildren are active in Junior Auxiliary organizations.
Besides recalling helping fight the major fires that occurred during the 1960s and 1970s in the village, Robert McKinney noted he was the only firefighter to serve in Lake George’s three consecutive fire halls.
“It’s been a good ride,” he said.
Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said the dedication of both Wayde Earl and Robert McKinney was unsurpassed, and their families carried on the admirable tradition.
“Both of these men have been really committed to their fellow citizens,” he said. “And they’ve passed on their strong community-minded values to all their family members.”