This is a guest post by Julie Newberry, our daughter
HAPPY RETIREMENT, DAD!
So, my Dad, Albert, retired Tuesday, July 31, 2018. He has work for the Town of Wytheville for 36 years in a variety departments, such as Maintenance, Fire Marshal, Building Inspection, and then finally Director of Public Safety, where he spent most of his time.
In his early years, he was also a volunteer firefighter. As a young child, there were many days both my parents worked crazy hours. So my dad took me with him on fire calls. I would set in the truck with our dog, while he would fight fires. Lots of times, I would also set in the fire truck and talk with the engineer on duty. Later in life, Dad told me stories about how sometimes I would be sound asleep in a dispatcher’s chair when all-heck would break loose. The dispatchers would just smile and shake their heads at the sleeping child.
My later childhood years I remember using a fire truck as my jungle gym—swinging around the handgrips and climbing on the back. But, I think the most fun I had was when riding on the back of a fire truck during the town parades.
A story Dad shared with me was a time I got locked in his work truck. I was about 4 years old. He was working on one of the stop lights at a major intersection in town late one winter night. He told me since it was cold out and our black lab, Lady, and I were in the truck that he would leave it running to keep us warm.
Dad had an old white pickup truck where the windows rolled up with a handle and you had to push the locks down. There were these tiny triangular-shaped little windows too. He parked the truck in the center of the intersection to block traffic while he worked. Dad got out of the truck to work on the controller for the traffic light. When he got done and was ready to head home, he realized the truck was locked and he couldn’t get in. Lady’s chin had pushed down the locking buttons.
For several minutes, Dad tried calling me over to unlock the door. Every time I went to go to the window, Lady would knock me over. I giggled and would sit there. After some time went by, Dad decided to call for backup. Two police officers came. They tried everything to get me to unlock the door. But Lady would just keep knocking me over. They used candy to entice Lady away from me. But, the second they moved the candy toward me, Lady would go after it. I wasn’t the least bit interested in candy. I was laughing at Lady.
Finally, one officer had a tool and he was able to pry open one of the side vent windows, and then unlock the door. By then, Dad was beaming red with frustration. A police officer said, “Don’t you yell at her; it wasn’t her fault.” Dad never did yell at me for that. Years later Dad told me the story. Since then, I often joke that the police officers are my bodyguards.
There were times when I would ride with Dad in his work truck, driving around town. We would have calls come over the radio that a bear was seen in town. So, we joined in the chase. One time, a bear was seen near the interstate. That time I watched my dad come face to face as it stood on its hind legs. I looked on with amazement and excitement. Not seeing my Dad’s face of fear, I watched him lead the bear to safety, back into the woods.
Other times, the forest service men would tranquillize a bear and place him in the back of their trucks to be transported somewhere else. While the bear was in the back of a truck, I would walk up to the bear and pet them saying “Good Bear!” As time went on, I would have several interactions with petting a bear. So, from that time on, Dad called me “Bear.”
Another time, we heard on the radio a police officer calling for back up. We were only a couple blocks away and my Dad rushed to the call. It was at a corner gas station. I saw my Dad and two police officers, one being a female officer, wrestling with a citizen trying to place them under arrest. All of sudden, they all went crashing through a big glass window. They finally got cuffs on the person. To my amazement the broken glass hurt none of them.
There are many stories I could tell of spending time with my Dad while he was at work. I was very lucky that I got to spend time with him while seeing him doing what he loved to do.
Through the years, I was able to see first hand the sacrifice and the many long hours my Dad spent serving and protecting the Town of Wytheville—from fighting fires to becoming the Director of Public Safety. In my eyes, from early on, my Dad is and will always be my hero for the sacrifices he made. Maybe that is why I like to volunteer at my church all the time. I want to give back just like my Dad did.
Congratulations and Best Wishes on your retirement, Dad. May you enjoy your retirement! You deserve it!!!
Lots of Love,
This posted first published on Pam’s Blog on August 10, 2018.