August 2007 Issue
The Harrison Fire Department has proven it's never too late to say thank you. This spring, the town unveiled its monument to William Wolf, the only Harrison firefighter killed in action in the department's 126-year history. Wolf, a 25-year veteran of the force, was fatally injured on October 3,
1935, while answering a fire call to a summer cottage on Lawrenceburg Road. The owner had affixed a shotgun to a baseboard in the bedroom to thwart burglars. When Wolf opened the door to the room, the weapon discharged.
The 48-year-old fireman died three days later, leaving his wife, Ola, and 13 children.
"People have asked why we decided to honor William Wolf 72 years after his death. The answer is, 'Why not?'" says Lt. Dennis Helcher, a 24-year member of the department, who spearheaded the campaign that raised $50,000 for the construction of the memorial. The idea emerged at Harrison's 2006 Memorial Day parade as Helcher and fire chief William Hursong watched members of the armed forces place a wreath on the town veterans memorial, and discussed the fact that there was no tribute to firefighters. Local businesses and residents rallied around the cause, raising the funds for the 8-foot-tall black marble obelisk.
"I'm so grateful they remembered," says Pauline Crowell, 80, Wolf's only surviving child. "My father was a very hard-working guy who held down several jobs to take care of us.
The memorial has paved the way for other tributes. The department is building a brick walkway to commemorate Harrison firefighters who have served in the department at least 15 years. To date, 149 names have been noted.
"These people gave volunteer service; they didn't receive a nickel for anything they did," Helcher says. "Over the years, they answered untold numbers of calls in every kind of weather.
"It's an honor to be a part of this project."