THE TWIN TIERS (WETM) – Each week WETM recognizes first responders from around our area who work hard every day to keep us safe and healthy. This week we would like to thank a group of people for carrying on a family tradition.
When one person gets the firefighting fever in your family, it is infectious and that seems to hold true for the McConnell family. The McConnell family is carrying on a family tradition in its fourth generation of giving back to the community through serving in the fire service. The service ranges from firefighter to chief and spans three states.
How it all started
The McConnell family first entered the fire service back in 1948, when William McConnell Sr. joined the South Waverly Fire Company, and Betsy McConnell joined the South Waverly Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary. 1948 is also the year in which the South Waverly Fire Company was established as a volunteer fire department and continues currently to protect the people and structures in the borough today.
The second generation
The sons of William and Betsy too followed in the footsteps of their parents in joining the fire service.
- Their son James, served as past chief of South Waverly. Five of their sons will be mentioned in the next generation.
- John was also a past chief in South Waverly, and his wife Carol was a past president of the South Waverly Fire Company. A daughter of theirs (Kim) will be mentioned in the next generation.
- Bill was a past member of South Waverly, he had two sons (Don and Bill) who will be mentioned in the next generation.
- Gerry was a past member of the Citizen Hose Company in Frederick, Maryland. He was a Tillerman, which is a big honor in the fire service.
The third generation
The third generation was not going to let the tradition stop with only two generations providing fire service to their communities.
John and Carol McConnell’s daughter, Kim was a past member of South Waverly.
Bill McConnell has two sons, Don and Bill who are both members of South Waverly.
James McConnell had five sons that are members of the fire service,
- James McConnell Jr. is a current member and past Asst. Chief of Peru (NY) Fire Department, Past President of the New York State Fire Police Association, Past President of the Clinton County Fire Police Association, and has won the Clinton County Firefighter of the Year honor.
- Richard McConnell is currently an Asst. Chief in the South Waverly Fire Department, and a member of the Watkins Glen International Raceway Fire Rescue crew.
- David McConnell is currently a member of the Athen Township Fire Company and a past Chief of South Waverly.
- Paul McConnell is a current member of the Gettysburg Fire Department. He is also a past Asst. Chief of South Waverly, a past Chief of JE Wheelock Hose Company in Sayre, PA, and a past member of the Watkins Glen International Raceway Fire Rescue crew.
- Earl McConnell, who has passed away, was a past Asst. Chief of South Waverly and a member of the Watkins Glen International Raceway Fire and Rescue crew.
The Fourth Generation
The fourth generation continues the tradition as well.
- James Jr’s son Sean and daughter Erin are both past members of the Peru Fire Department.
- Richard’s son, Emerson is a current member of the South Waverly, while his daughter Pam is a past member of South Waverly and is a current member of the Ovid Fire Department.
- Paul’s son, Dale, is a current member of the Athens Boro Fire Department. serving as a Lieutenant and is a past member of the Kato Perish Fire Department. His son, Garrison, is a past member of the East Smithfield Fire Department. And his son, Patrick, is a past member of the JE Wheelock Hose Company in Sayre, Pa.
- James Webster is currently the Chief of the Bath VA Center and was the first recipient of the VA Firefighter of the year award.
- Ernie Robinson is a current member of the Catawissa Fire Department.
We like to thank the McConnell family for continuing the tradition of firefighting and helping keep each of us safe every day.
Each Tuesday during 18 News at 5:30 we will highlight First Responders from viewer submissions. You can nominate a First Responder by clicking on this link.