[quote style=”2″]300-Plus Friends Attend Pat Hart’s Retirement Party[/quote]
For almost four decades, Pat Hart put out fires in Umatilla County. Saturday night, the community returned the favor with a good-natured roast of the retiring fire chief.
Hart started with the Umatilla Fire District in November 1977 and moved to Hermiston Fire and Emergency Services full time in 1984. His career includes multiple levels as an emergency medical technician, a lieutenant and captain before he was promoted to chief in May 2008.
On May 1, Hart passed the reins to Scott Stanton and became, as he calls it, “fire chief, retired.”
More than 300 people attended the retirement celebration at the Hermiston Conference Center to reflect on Hart’s career, share stories and give the chief a hard time – while he had to sit on the stage and take it.
While the jokes came hard and fast, from injecting numbing lidocaine jelly into toothpaste to giving a patient an accidental “tattoo” with a permanent ink transfer, most speakers centered on a central theme: the care and consideration Hart gives all around him.
Stories shared by those in attendance, from Hart’s former partners to his longtime friends, included dozens of examples of Hart “going the extra mile.”
As an EMT and firefighter, Hart has saved thousands of lives over his career – both strangers and friends.
He travels long distances just to sit with friends while their family members undergo surgery or to be there for support during rough times.
When visiting an apartment complex, he stopped to help people move a couch, even though he didn’t know them and would never see them again.
In the 1960s, Hart and a friend stopped at an A&W, and, when Hart realized the waitress’ shoes were soaked, he went to a shoe store and bought her a pair of dry boots.
“My dad . . . he would do just about anything for anybody,” said his daughter, Stacy. “I am still, and have always been, proud to be Pat Hart’s daughter.”
Emcee Steve Williams said Hart’s life revolves around five things: faith, friends, family, firefighting and fun. One practical joke illustrated how Hart’s love of fun and practical jokes filtered into his children as well.
Hart closed his eyes to listen to a recording of his son, Cory, who said he could not travel from his home in Virginia, only to have an emotional jolt when the recording turned out to be fake and Corey walked out on stage.
During the celebration, Hart received congratulations, well wishes, and honors from friends, family, and firefighting organizations, including tools he can use to develop his landscape photography hobby by gifting him a Canon EOS 6D DSLR camera bundle.
While his children and others shared stories live, Williams said others are welcome to submit stories and memories for inclusion in scrapbook by emailing Reta Larson, administrative assistant for Hermiston Fire and Emergency Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hart said he was humbled by the attendance.
“It’s been fun, and, as I said in my last letter to the board, what a ride,” Hart said. “My job as chief has been a great one. Thank you so much for being there for me and taking care of me so we all can be there to take care of others.”
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