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The “Final Bell”: Walworth says goodbye to Stu Huntley
- Updated: April 2, 2011
Hundreds of Walworth residents – friends, family and those who only knew his legacy, attended the memorial service on Thursday for Stuart Huntley. The service was fittingly held at the place Stu called a second home – the Walworth Fire Hall on Church Street. In full dress uniforms, his colleagues/fellow firefighters, stood at attention during the service to honor their friend.
It was just last week, as Stu found himself in the hospital at the astonishing age of 91, that he was awarded his pin for 70 years of service to the Walworth Fire Department, by its president Jack Leasure.
Stuart Huntley was born at the home of Clifford and Emily Huntley on July 22, 1919. He graduated from Walworth High School in 1936 and worked on the family farm, also hauling produce and taking on several local milk routes.
In Jue of 1941 Stuart joined the Walworth Fire Department, leaving their service only to serve his country in the European Theatre of Operations during WW2. He served for 15 months in the infantry in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. Then, it was back the farm and his fire department. During that time, Stu did not remain idle. He began a small scale construction business, then worked heavy construction for many contractors and developers.
A pool installation business followed later in the 1960s and friends say no one could run a backhoe and excavator with more precision than Stu. He later took a job driving for Seneca Food in Marion and he retired from that job in 1984.
His work and knowledge with machines of all kinds, set him apart at the Fire Department, and he was always the “go-to guy” for anything mechanical. In remembering Stu, Jack Leasure called him their “Firematics and Machinery” expert. There wasn’t any machine or truck that he couldn’t fix or operate.
In the Walworth Fire Department, Stuart was Fire Commissioner for 22 years, including 10 years as Fire Department President (1955-1965). In 1988, Stu was named Fireman of the Year. In 2006, Stu received his 65 year service pin and also received State Firemen’s Associaton honors.
Stu was very fondly remembered by an old friend who attested that “Stu did not go around the corner to tell you something, he always came straight to the point.” He was known for both his forthrightness and his humor. A “gentle giant”, Stu loved his family of three daughters, Marcia Wyse, Linda VerPlank, and Judy Casler and his son Tom Huntley; grandchildren: Eric, Rachel, Amanda, Jordan, Haley and Micaela, and great grandchildren: Ethan and Grace.
Stu, with his enormous appetite and love of food, will noteably be remembered by many staff and patrons of local diners,” admitted a smiling family member.
Following the memorial service at the Walworth Fire Hall, one “final bell” was sounded to send this dedicated fireman to his repose. His casket was carried on the Department’s E37 truck, past saluting commrades, to his final resting spot at Walworth Cemetery on Sherburne Road, in his beloved hometown of Walworth.