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Valley Hill honors Ward for 50 years of service

Valley Hill Fire Chief Tim Garren hands a crystal plaque to Gary Ward, who has served with the department for 50 years. Valley Hill Fire Chief Tim Garren hands a crystal plaque to Gary Ward, who has served with the department for 50 years.

In 1970, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” led the Billboard charts, “Love Story” was a box office smash and “Marcus Welby, M.D.” drew the most television viewers.

In that same year, young Gary Ward signed on as a volunteer with Valley Hill Fire & Rescue.
A fulltime firefighter for the Hendersonville Fire Department before his retirement, Ward was honored last week for his volunteer service, which continues into a sixth decade.
“He’s an active firefighter,” Valley Hill Chief Tim Garren said. “He comes out and helps us when he can.”
Although Covid restrictions prevented the department from holding its annual awards dinner, Garren and a handful of department leaders honored Ward recently at Fire Station 1. Fighting fires is not all Ward does.
“Gary’s a jack of all trades,” Garren said. “He’s always ‘McGivering’ things for us.”
The fire truck that in retirement became a funeral truck, bearing first responders to their final resting place, was a Gary Ward project.
“It’s an old pumper. It’s spent its life as a front line truck,” the chief said. “He can fabricate and engineer about anything he puts his mind to. He’s got a service heart. If you know Gary, if you need something, he doesn’t know the word no. He’s going to help you. He truly has a service heart. He’s spent his whole life serving this county, the city, Valley Hill and he’s still serving."
Garren regretted that more people could not gather to honor Ward.
“We’re just having to be super careful right now, because we’re fighting (the coronavirus) every day on the front lines,” he said. “It tickled him, he was really pleased. I think it caught him off guard. Gary’s one of those people — he’s never looked for anything in return. He’s just a fine man.”