The company started in 1976, and this is the first brand new rig ever to go in the barn. My dad rebuilt the engine on their first truck, a 1956 Ford, they have come far.
I have been asked to say a few words in honor of my Dad. The guys and girls at the company really thought a lot of him. There is a plaque on the pump panel, in honor of Willis ‘Pop’ Hapeman. Dad was blessed with 53 years in fire service. I was really surprised when, at his funeral, the Pittston and West Pittston Fire Companies put the aerial ladders at full extension forming an arch for the hearse and parade to go under. we call it putting up the sticks. It is an honor seen most often when a firefighter dies on the job, but I guess dad fought enough fires in both towns to deserve the honor.
He was a leader as Fire Chief, then President, then Pop. He offered marital and relationship counseling to people who had no one else to talk to. People would confide the most private things to him. He was a very special man. I grew up in a small town where Dad wad the borough electrician. He was responsible for the town fire alarm. That meant I got to blow the siren a lot. What a thrill for a young boy to make such a loud noise! Dad had a key ring with keys to about half the houses in town, in case they needed electrical work he could get in to do it. He was trusted, and with reason. He was honest to a fault.
It will be an honor and a privilege to speak on his behalf today. There are some things I will not mention to the crowd that I would like to share with you, as shared burdens weigh much less.
My dad never saw my family sing in church. When the girls were young my wife would play keyboard, I would play guitar, and we would sing in various churches as a way to serve our God. He never saw that. I have been preacher for almost thirty years, fill in, old age homes, Church of Christ, Baptist, Congregational,etc. My dad never heard me preach. I was a soloist in churches and school , college,and churches. My dad never heard me sing. My dad did not believe as I do. He often said, “When you are dead you’re dead!” He wanted no part of church.
My readers can understand why, when he died I went through a two year period of depression. He had told me that if I became a preacher he would break my leg, and if I became a Baptist preacher he would break both my legs. Threats like this from a big powerful man must not be ignored. I was made Pastor the week he died. I stood over his bed, looking at his legs, both broken from within by cancer, and just had to wonder.
I loved my Dad. We spent so much time together as business partners, hunters, and firemen. My life was often in his hands, and he always pulled through. Once another company shut my hose line off while I was in a working structure fire on the nozzle, once. After Dad straightened them out that would not be repeated.After the 72 flood electricity had me stuck to a pipe in a basement and he kicked me off,[ he said he enjoyed that], and we will not speak of the bar fights here. As far as eternity, I have thread bare hope of a deathbed conversion. All things are possible with God, and even if we are separated after time ceases I still owe Dad much. He taught me a good trade, made me a Fire Fighter and Chief, taught me to shoot straight with firearms and people. There is no doubt he was a good and honorable man.
I need to get in fire company mode, dry my eyes and look the part of a past Chief honoring a past Chief. On a purely secular level it will be a great day, I just am not sure I can function on a purely secular level these days.
Pray for my brother firefighters, they are some of the best people I know. Introduce them to the Savior with love, Amazing Grace should be more to them than the name of the song they play at a fireman’s funeral.
12 Comments so far
Leave a comment