Anyone who has walked through the bay doors at the Harker Heights Fire Department is familiar with the phrase, “C’mere rook.”
After 25 years with the department, firefighter/paramedic Kenneth Sperry, 55, took off his helmet for good.
“I loved my job dearly. What other job allows you to only work 11 days a month?” Sperry said. “I will miss the people I’ve worked with over the years the most.”
Sperry’s co-workers, colleagues, city officials and staff honored him May 29 during a retirement ceremony “for a job well done” in the very training room he helped build.
After serving eight years as an Army mechanic, he started his career with the Heights’ department in 1987 as a volunteer and became a full-time firefighter in 1988.
“We are truly honored. We are joyful. We are saddened, proud and melancholy,” said Heights Fire Chief Jack Collier. “We are honored to have served with Kenny and that’s a fact. We are joyful that you have attained what we all aspire to and saddened that you are leaving our active ranks. We are proud to say how much you mean to us, this department and this city. We are melancholy because a void is going to exist that will be hard to fill. There a big shoes to fill and you have been a valuable part of this family and we will miss you.”
Glenn Galenstein, deputy fire chief, presented Sperry with his helmet, a tradition within the organization. “It has protected him at work and it will continue to protect him at home,” he said.
Quoting Issac Newton, Galenstein continued his speech. “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants, and Kenny is one of those giants,” he said.
Throughout his career, Sperry fought countless fires and answered many calls. His co-workers said he also has fire trucks and taught others how to fix their own mistakes.
A Shift Capt. Jimmy Carson worked with Sperry from the start.
“We have been in burning buildings together,” he said, adding that when Sperry started, he would operate the truck, the hose and fight the fire alone until the station adopted the two-in-two-out system. “His dedication makes this department what it is today. He paved the way for younger generation in here today.”
B Shift Capt. Rick Whalen donned a colorful welding cap before he reminisced about his days working with Sperry.
“I am grateful for his mentorship and for putting his boot where it needed to go when I needed it,” he said. “He has had my back on and off the fire ground. My wish for you is you have lots of laughter, good chili and a cooler filled with ice cold beer.”