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Wilbert H. Lewis, Jr., Odenton Volunteer Fire Company, Marbery F. Gates Service Cup
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By Member John Long, Jr.
June 26, 2018

Odenton VFC
Marbery F. Gates Service Cup Award

Wilbert H. "Bill" Lewis, Jr. was a recipient of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) Marbery F. Gates Service Cup Award on June 19, 2018.
Bill joined the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company (OVFC) on September 12, 1961 at the age of 16. He has been an active participant in company activities for over 56 years and the OVFC is proud of the service he has provided.

During those early years in the fire service, not much training was required to be a responder, but Bill took a keen interest in training. When a formal Fire Basic class became available in 1964, he entered the class along with other members of OVFC. He would later complete the Intermediate Fire and Advanced Fire training programs. He would continue a path of training throughout his fire service career until he stopped becoming an active responder just a few years ago.

On the administrative side of our organization, Bill served on the Board of Directors as Secretary from 1966 to 1967 and as a Director in 1969. On the suppression side, he served as Second Lieutenant in 1966, First Lieutenant in 1967, Captain in 1973 and 1986, and Deputy Chief in 1974 and again from 1977 to 1978. He also served as Assistant Chief in 1969, 1975 to 1976, 1979 to 1980, and 1987 to 1989. Bill is best known for his dedication to training and especially to driver training. He developed the first handbook for training new OVFC drivers. This handbook contained a checklist for each specific piece of apparatus to ensure that each driver possessed the necessary skills and qualifications to operate the unit before being cleared as a driver. This handbook has been adopted by several of OVFC’s neighboring companies.

Bill has demonstrated that he is an asset to the fire service no matter where he resides. During the early 1970's, Bill moved away from Odenton to a home in Herald Harbor, near Anne Arundel County’s Station 6. While he maintained his membership with OVFC, he also became an active member with the Herald Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, soon becoming the Deputy Chief. He demonstrated his same dedication to training and driver proficiency at Herald Harbor and helped that department to move forward.

In the mid-1970's, Bill moved back to Odenton, giving up his membership at Herald Harbor and returning to active service with OVFC. In the 1980's, a job opportunity moved Bill away again, this time to Florida where he was hired by the Cape Coral Fire Department. Bill continued to maintain his membership with OVFC, assisting with special projects on his vacations in Maryland. After a few years in Florida, Bill and his family returned to Odenton. Bill returned to active membership status and assisted with training and drivers training.

While not an active responder any longer, Bill remains a valuable asset to the OVFC. He has taken on several projects that are critical to the company's operations. He routinely is available to assist with building maintenance projects. His most notable contributions are to the annual carnival. Bill has served as Carnival Chairman for the past several years. Prior to becoming chairman, Bill was always available during the carnival, assisting in the weeks prior to the start of the carnival with clean up of the carnival building and set-up of the concession stands. He even used his carpentry skills to construct several stands to be used for prize displays. These stands were made so that they could be taken apart for off-season storage and then easily put back together the following year.

Bill assumed responsibility for the food and supplies for the carnival. This is quite a logistical task to order just the right amount of food and supplies to last the seven nights of the carnival without having too much surplus and lost profits. Bill has done an excellent job at this task and can be found nightly during our carnival checking inventories to see if additional materials must be purchased for the next night. Bill has done so well with the carnival ordering, he now has the same responsibilities for ordering food and supplies for the semiannual bull roasts and annual crab feast and purchasing drinks for the Thursday night Food Trucks from April to October. Bill is also active on the Special Programs Fundraising committee.

Bill is a regular attendee at the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association (AACVFA) meetings and the MSFA conventions as a delegate representative of OVFC. Again, because Bill is always willing to pitch in and help where needed, he has been appointed to the MSFA Convention Committee, Exhibits Subcommittee for the past several years. He can be found at each convention helping to set-up the exhibit areas and ensuring that the exhibitors have everything they need. He then helps to staff the booth during the convention to help ensure a smooth operation until everything is torn down and the convention concluded. Bill was inducted in the AACVFA Hall of Fame in September 2010 and the MSFA Hall of Fame in June 2017.
Bill's dedication to the OVFC makes him a true asset to the company’s continued success. He illustrates the true spirit of volunteerism, supporting the operations during his younger years and later transitioning to an administrative support role. He is the type of member that you hope that every new member will mirror so that the company will continue to prosper.

Bill has dutifully served the interest of OVFC and the fire service across Anne Arundel County and the state of Maryland for over 56 years. He serves as a role model and mentor for each person that he meets.

Wilbert H. "Bill" Lewis
Wilbert H. "Bill" Lewis

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