Fireman’s 65 years of service celebrated

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Fireman’s  65 years  of service celebrated

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Firemen, family members and friends filled the Mays Landing Fire Department Tuesday, Oct 2, to celebrate George Spera's 65 years of service as a volunteer fireman for the department.

The fire department presented the 89-year-old Spera with a shiny plaque for his 65 years of service and dedication to the department. Spera humbly accepted the as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

His wife, Mary, smiled as her husband stood next to Michael Perri, Mays Landing Fire Department president, and took a picture with his plaque.

Spera first showed interest in becoming involved with the fire department in 1946 after he came home from serving in World War II.

However there weren't any openings at the time. Spera didn't let that stop him from trying again the next year, and at that time he joined along with three other men.

In 1952 Spera took on his first administrative office as vice president of the department. He held the position until 1961 and when he became president, a title he would hold for the next 15 years.

Along with his dedicated service with the fire department, Spera has also been a member of the Relief Association for the last 60 years.

Among Spera’s many awards and acknowledgements is one from the township for outstanding dedicated service to the fire department in 1969. In 1985, the Chamber of Commerce named Spera Citizen of the Year. The Mays Landing Rotary Club also acknowledged Spera for his dedicated years to the fire service in 1995.

In 1997, Spera was honored by the township for 50 years of service.

Fire Chief Dave Connelly said he has always been amazed at Spera’s wealth of knowledge about the fire department, from finances to relief association.

"It's nice to know that there is someone like him that is just so dedicated to this place. He's here every day when I'm here. This place is really in his heart and I appreciate him for all that he's done. Hopefully, we have him around here for a lot longer," said Connelly.

Spera said he became interested in volunteering for the fire department after his three years of service in the Army. He thought it would be a great way to meet other veterans and help his community, but he never imagined he would be serving the department for this long.

"I thought I would serve for maybe 20 years or so, that would be great. When I became a member for 20 years, they came through and they said, 'Well now you've become a life member.’ So, I've become a life member. I just wanted to keep going because I wanted to help out; it's community service.”

Just as Spera has dedicated most of his life to the fire department, the couple has dedicated their lives to Mays Landing.

They have lived in Mays Landing their whole lives, where they went to school, met and married. One might say it was love at first sight as the couple met in kindergarten. They are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this week.

The couple has two children – a son, George Jr., and a daughter, Susan. They have three grandchildren.

Spera said that being at the ceremony and seeing all of the people that support him made him feel great. He never expected to even have a ceremony and he's glad that he got to experience the moment.

"I enjoy being with the fire company and I'm going to stay until they kick me out." 

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