On Saturday, April 12, 2014, family, friends and firefighters of Big Walnut Joint Fire District gathered together to honor and celebrate over 32 years of dedicated service of retired Chief Rodger Norcross. Fourteen of those years were spent with the Big Walnut Joint Fire District.
The retirement dinner was hosted by the BWJFD Firefighters and emceed by Fire Board President Lynn Shinaberry.
The opening ceremony featured several moving musical selections played on the bagpipes by Jack Guyton.
“I’m uncertain just how many lives you have touched but I am certain it is many,” began Shinaberry. “I applaud your dedication to public safety and a big thank you from the people of Big Walnut Fire District.”
Shinaberry noted that Norcross is currently serving as school resource officer for Frederickton, “He didn’t stay retired very long.”
Firefighter Ross Bigelow shared, “Rodger was the first one to let you know that you did a good job.” He explained that Norcross always asked them after a run how they felt it went. “He was teaching us and helped us learn through that process,” said Bigelow. “It was a real pleasure serving with you. I do appreciate the time we spent together.”
Next to speak was firefighter Aaron Bigelow, “We are all here tonight to honor and celebrate the retirement of Chief Rodger Norcross, what can I possibly say about a man who has dedicated over 32 years of his life to the fire service and has been an inspiration and role model for every person he has encountered?’ Bigelow shared several humorous anecdotes about his time serving with the chief including managing to get dressed into full gear while holding a sandwich and a drink, “I think this is when he earned the nickname Chuck Norris,” joked Bigelow. On a more serious note Bigelow said, “He saw to it that we all made it home from every run.”
Assistant Chief Laurie Lovell chocked back tears as she expressed her thoughts to Norcross, “Thank you for your professionalism and integrity and for your service. I’m going to miss working with you.” she said.
Norcross was then presented with a commemorative plaque featuring an axe. “On behalf of a very grateful constituency Rodger, thank you, job well done,” said Shinaberry.
Norcross smiled as he spoke about his wife Mary, “I have been married for 31 years and she has had to put up with this the whole time.” He relayed that the largest fire he fought was the Beer Barrel Saloon fire at Put in Bay in 1988. He reflected on accomplishments, “The one thing I am most proud of, besides my family, is that during my service I have never had anyone get hurt and I have never gotten hurt myself.” ” I ask one thing, and that is that you give Chief Ernsberger the same respect that you gave me. Our department shined because of everybody else.”
The BWJFD Firefighters wish him and his family the best of luck in his retirement and his endeavors.