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Never Forget

Time Flies Dayhoff: Reese Volunteer Fire Company celebrates 70 years of service
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By Committee Chair Kati Townsley
April 20, 2018

Earlier this month, on April 7, the Reese and Community Volunteer Fire Company held a banquet and awards ceremony to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

The evening was well attended as members of the department, elected officials and community leaders filled the social hall above the engine bays at the station at the intersection of Md. 140 and Reese Road. Those in attendance included Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees, Commissioners Dennis Frazier, and Richard Weaver. Delegates Susan Krebs and Haven Shoemaker, Carroll County Circuit Court Judge Richard Titus, and “District Six Commissioner” Dave Bollinger.

In recent years the company has sadly filled the social hall for the funerals of three of the community’s patriarchs, so ... many folks were happy to get together and celebrate the work of the fire company.

Joseph Edward Spangler Sr. died Dec. 25, 2014. Spangler was a life member of the department with more than 50 years of service. He joined the department in 1961. He was the chief of the fire company from 1984 to 1985 and served as president for 14 years.

Jake Caple, the last remaining founding member of the organization, died on May 8, 2017 at 88. At age 16, Caple and several friends help start the company when they bought a fire engine and housed it in his mom’s garage in 1948.

Tommy Brothers, a 37-year veteran of Reese died unexpectedly of a heart attack at his home on March 15, 2018. His death at the young age of 55 came as a shock.

Seventy years ago, Carroll County community leaders made good use of the winter months to get together and plan for fire protection. Two Carroll County volunteer fire companies got their start in 1948. In addition to the Reese organization, the New Windsor fire company held an organizational meeting Jan. 23, 1948.

In southern Carroll County, the Feb. 6, 1948 edition of the Democratic Advocate reported that, “Preliminary steps looking to the early construction of a firemen's building and community hall were taken Monday night at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Sykesville Volunteer Fire Company.”

Two years earlier, the first Pleasant Valley Community Fire Co. fire hall — the "Patriotic Order of Sons of America" Lodge Hall, was purchased in January 1946 for $2,800, according to an interview with Pleasant Valley volunteer firefighter, now Carroll County Commissioner Steve Wantz, R-District 1.

Reese started in a garage owned by Caple's uncle in 1947. A history published on the fire department's website reports that, “On the evening of Jan. 26, 1948, several people of Reese and the surrounding communities held a meeting at the garage ...” According to the site, Lexly Caple, Sterling Shipley, Harry Woodward, Cleveland Knight, Russell Knouse, Chester Taylor, Joseph Taylor, Irving Blum, and Holloday Blizzard were in attendance.

Reese ordered its first piece of equipment on May 7, 1948. It was “an International KB-8 chassis with a KB-10 engine from the Gore Motor Company of Westminster Maryland ...” It cost $20,000.

Reese moved to its present location on Md. 140 in 1956. The company history reports: “The present carnival grounds were purchased from Stoner's Nursery on Oct. 7, 1950. The tract of land contained 16.5 acres and was purchased for $5,000.00. Additional land adjacent to the property was purchased in April 1954 for the sum of $2,000. In August, ground was broken for the new building and was dedicated on March 26, 1956.”

The first Reese fire company carnival took place in the late 1940s. According to longstanding fire company member Bob Alexander, the first carnival took place “right after the first year the department organized. It was 1949, down at the Sandymount Elementary School…”

Fire company winter banquets and awards ceremonies are a storied tradition in Carroll County. According to an article in the Carroll County Times on March 28, 1957, 12 firefighters were handed diplomas for completing the “Basic Fire Training course, which is given by the Fire Service Extension of the University of Maryland… Graduation was conducted Wednesday night, March 20 at the Reese Fire Hall with a banquet prepared by the ladies auxiliary of Reese.

“Those who graduated are Berlin Canto. William Fourhman, Richard Gorsuch, D. Carroll Hoare, James Morgan Myerly, Herbert Nickles, Jack Wickles, Robert Smith. William Paul Walsh, Joe Yelton, Henry Bair, all of Reese; and Russell Kidd of Westminster.”
The real heroes in our community are teachers, the folks that work in the street and roads department and serve in the military, firefighters, police and correctional officers, dispatchers, and EMS providers. General Norman Schwarzkopf once said, “True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow. That’s what courage is.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. Email him at


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