By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Oakvale community gathered Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Oakvale Volunteer Fire Department. While the event was a celebration of the department’s progress and longevity, Assistant Chief Davina Clyburn used the occasion to make a membership appeal.
“Mr. and Mrs. Shorter lost their home to fire a few weeks ago,” Clyburn said. The Shorters — Jackie and Jane — attended the event. Clyburn said that when the department responded to the fire, they responded in three vehicles with just three people. The structure was fully involved when the department arrived. The Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department and the Glen Lyn, Va., Volunteer Fire Department also responded, but the home was a total loss.
“That event woke me us,” Clyburn said. “When you have two people who have just lost everything, come up to you with tears in their eyes and say: ‘Thank you for all you have done,’ it really gets to you.
“Answer the call,” she said. “Don’t let someone’s house burn down or let someone involved in a car wreck just lie on the road,” she said. “Thank you all for coming here today. Let’s draw this team back together again.”
The Shorter’s home caught fire at about 7 p.m. on Sept. 6. “We got out with just the clothes on our back,” Jane Shorter said.
“You never know that on any day, everything you have ever had in life will be gone,” Jackie Shorter said. “I still can’t believe it.”
Prior to the emotional conclusion of the celebration, Morris Clyburn provided a thorough recap of the department’s 40-year history, starting almost every highlight out with the phrase: “Remember when ...” and recalling the steady growth of the department from its humble origins with the purchase of a 1956 Chevrolet tanker truck with no doors to the present with its most recent acquisition, a 2013 pumper/tanker that cost $283,000. “I can’t say enough about these firemen, the board and this community,” Morris Clyburn said.
Morris Clyburn and Mark Collins conducted a memorial service for the 19 former members of the department who passed away — all from natural causes.
Jeremiah Murphy, chairman of the board of directors, gave the invocation. Timothy Dobbins led the “Pledge of Allegiance,” Chief Victor Lester made a presentation to the Oakvale Ruritan Club, and Shannon Clyburn offered the benediction. The department provided refreshments after the event.
— Contact Bill Archer at email@example.com