BUCKHANNON – During the 13th annual Friendly Way Day, longtime firefighter Joe Bennett was honored posthumously.
Friendly Way Day came about in 2007 when the Buckhannon City Council named the street in front of the City’s Public Safety Complex “Friendly Way,” in honor of Fire Chief Carl R. “Bud” “Ole Friendly” Bennett. City officials also decided to make “Friendly Way Day” an annual opportunity to honor other members of the Buckhannon Fire Department.
Mayor David McCauley said Bennett dedicated 26 years of his life to the Buckhannon Fire Department.
“Today, we add Joe Bennett to our growing list of honorees,” McCauley said. “Joe gave 26 years of his life that ended way too early, to this department and to our community. We continue to recognize him and thank Joe for his dedicated service as a firefighter.”
Fire Chief J.B. Kimble recalled Bennett’s ability as a firefighter.
“Joe was a mentor to all, and I learned so much from him … from patience to technical rescue and fighting fires,” Kimble said. “When I joined the fire department, I learned there were three people that I learned to get on the shirttail of, one was Joe Bennett, my brother and Jim Gregory was one. That’s how I learned, in the trenches, and that’s how you used to learn and now we have this mass training system.”
“But back in that day that system wasn’t there,” Kimble continued. “You had to get with people who knew what they were doing. Joe was an expert a technical rescue, Joe was a truck driver, operator, everything to do with firefighting. He was ahead of his time. He really pushed himself.”
Bennett’s family was in attendance, and his wife Sue Bennett read a letter from their daughter Amy Thorne, who was unable to attend.
“I adored my father,” Bennett read. “At times we wanted to kill each other, but I still loved him like no other. Fathers and daughters have special relationships. My dad never treated me like less because I was a girl. He taught me life skills and expected hard work, and we played hard too. He loved to hunt and fish and tried very hard to make me love them too.”
The letter said Thorne knew how hard Bennett worked at being a firefighter.
“He worked all the time being a firefighter and auctioneer,” Bennett read. “He wanted to provide a good life for me and my mom. I am so happy he saw me graduate from college because that was an expectation he set for me early in life. I know most people think they have the best dad, but I was truly blessed with an amazing father.”
There will be a placard installed on the “Red Wall” and the “Buddy Bench” on Friendly Way, in front of the Public Safety Complex with Joe Bennett’s name.
“We thank all of our Friendly Way Day honorees for their tireless contributions to making our community the safest and very best it can be,” McCauley said. “From Bud Bennett to Joe Bennett, we thank them all. May our Red Wall long endure and may our next generation of firefighters aspire to someday see their helmet placed upon it joining the greatest of the great. Bless the members of our Buckhannon Fire Department.”