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By Member John Long, Jr.
April 20, 2021


On April 17, 2021, Wylie L. Donaldson, Jr. (fourth from left) of the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company (OVFC) received the Maryland Fire Chiefs Chief Leslie B. Thompson Memorial Award.

Wylie joined the OVFC on September 13, 1952 at 14 years old, following in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather, who was a Charter Member of OVFC. Since 1960, he has continuously served in a position as either an administrative officer or a suppression officer. He has served on far too many company committees to commit to paper. He has held every administrative position in the Company and was President from 1968 through 1974. He became a Second Lieutenant in 1962 and rose to the rank of Chief in 1974, a position he proudly served until 1989. For his commitment and exemplary service, the OVFC recently awarded Wylie the honor of Chief Emeritus. Even with 68 years of active and continuous service, Wylie remains an instrumental part of the company’s success, currently serving as Vice President and the chair of the annual carnival committee. Many of our company’s leaders today have been mentored by Wylie. One of our pumpers is dedicated to him in recognition of his service and support to the fire company and the community.

During his tenure as Chief, Wylie instilled the principle that training was a vital component of delivering the highest quality of service to the citizens of our community. Wylie also continually promotes the concept of the fire company as a vital part of the community and ensures our presence is visible at all community events. Community leaders look to Wylie whenever there is a local project needing the support of the fire company. Wylie finds a way of getting the job done and gaining the support of the people needed to make sure that is done right.

Wylie has also demonstrated his leadership ability with the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association (AACVFA). He served as one of the volunteer representatives, appointed by the Anne Arundel County Executive, to the Fire Advisory Board from 1982 through 1990, and as AACVFA President from 1998 to 1999. During his term as President, he followed a vision of bringing new life to the volunteer fire service and initiated a volunteer cadet program within the Anne Arundel County Public School System. Most recently, Wylie helped to lead efforts to greatly enhance the Length of Service Award Program to reward volunteers for their service and provide an incentive to retain active volunteers. For his service to the ACCVFA, Wylie was inducted into the AACVFA Hall of Fame in 1998, was named Individual of the Year in 1994 and 2009 and was the Member of the Quarter in August 2010. He was also recognized by the 100 Club of Anne Arundel County as an Unsung Hero in 2007.

Wylie has also actively served the Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) for several decades. He has served on numerous of committees, most notably as Anne Arundel County’s representative on the Executive Committee from 1998 until 2012 and as Executive Committee Chairman in 2011-2012. Wylie presently serves as Chair of the Convention Exhibits Committee. He is also one of the Assistant Treasurers, acting as the association’s liaison to the Maryland Military Department and overseeing the administration of the Volunteer Company Assistance Fund, a $20M loan program for MSFA member companies, and the Senator William H. Amoss Fire, Rescue, and Ambulance Fund, a $10M grant fund to help acquire fire and rescue equipment. For his service to MSFA, he was inducted in the MSFA Hall of Fame in 1999. Further, Wylie is only one of three individuals to receive the top three honors from the MSFA, receiving the Gladhill-Thompson Trophy in 2005, the Marbery F. Gates Service Cup Award in 2009, and Robert H. Shimer Administrative Person of the Year Award in 2018.

As the above testimony clearly describes, Wylie Donaldson has made outstanding contributions to the OVFC and the fire service in Anne Arundel County and across the State of Maryland for over 68 years. Wylie demonstrates the leadership qualities that each of us strive to achieve and serves as a role model and mentor for each person that he meets. In consideration of his sustained and dedicated service, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Volunteer Fire Council in 2019.

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