NEWTOWN, Pennsylvania – The community of Newtown mourns the loss of one of its longtime residents and a 65-year-old member of the Newtown Fire Association (NFA).
Newtown Fire and Emergency Services announced the death of former NFA President Dave Pannepacker in a Facebook post.
Dave had served the association as president in 1987, during a time of unprecedented growth in Newtown. He had also held the positions of vice-president, secretary-archivist, administrator and from 1965 to 1992 he was foreman and driver for Rescue 45, a 1965 Ward La France rescue unit.
who served the fire company until 1997 when he retired after 32 years of active duty. The device still belongs to the fire company and is kept in its museum.
Dave also spent many years as president of the Skyline Fire District.
“For 65 years he was part of the group that laid the foundations of the firefighters association. And it will be a very great loss without him,” said Chief Glenn Forsyth, who has known Dave his whole life.
According to the chief, Dave had coffee with the career firefighters every morning. “He was at the fire station every day. And he never missed a fire department meeting until last month when he got sick. He was just always there.
“We always looked to Dave for advice,” the chef added. “He was a huge pillar in the fire association. We relied on him and every day he was always there when you needed him,” Forsyth said. “He was a wonderful man.”
Known around town as “Mr. P,” Dave was a lifelong Newtonian who was a United States Air Force veteran, serving in the United States from 1950 to 1954 during the Korean War.
He graduated from Newtown High School on Chancellor Street and worked for 33 years with the United States Post Office in Newtown. After retiring from the USPS at age 55, he drove a school bus route for Gray Nun Academy for many years.
“His dedication and commitment to his family, the fire association and his hometown was unparalleled. Dave was a true gentleman,” the association wrote on its Facebook page. “He was revered as a local historian and his advice was often sought in navigating various fire association issues over the years.”
NFA President Warren Dallas said Dave has been an integral part of the association for more than six decades. “It says a lot to dedicate so much time to himself,” Dallas said. “My earliest memories of him are as the foreman of Rescue 45 where he was often the driver responding to emergency calls.
“He has also supported the association in many administrative positions,” Dallas said. “He was my vice-president for my first six years as president. He represented the association for me at many functions. He was someone you could count on to help you in any way necessary. . And he will be greatly missed.”
Dallas said Dave is always involved with the trucks, whether it’s helping spec new purchases, driving them, or helping maintain the fleet.
“His loss is going to be a hole that will be difficult for us to fill,” Dallas said. “He was always there at the meetings. It may take some time to realize that he won’t be there anymore.”
In November, the association honored Pannepacker for his years of service by dedicating the company’s newest engine in his honor. He also had the honor of sitting in the passenger seat as the truck was pushed into the station.
During the housing ceremony, Chief Forsyth noted that Pannepacker had applied for the fire association on August 6, 1956, but had not been elected a member of the fire company until September 30, 1957. “There had a waiting list to become a volunteer firefighter.” said Forsyth. “Thank you for sticking it out that year,” he told Pannepacker.
A bronze plaque affixed to the side of the engine today recognizes Pannepacker for his years of service and dedication to the local fire department.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me in my life,” Pannepacker said at the inauguration. “I enjoyed my time with the fire company and all the people I met and all the guys I know. They are great people.”
In a nutshell, Pannepacker called the new truck “magnificent,” which was high praise from a man who owed several of his own vintage fire trucks, including Bucks County’s oldest field truck. and who was the company’s truck foreman for years.
Pannepacker will be laid to rest in Newtown Cemetery on Thursday, his coffin transported aboard an ex-1923 Kearns Doughy Pumper, part of the association’s collection of antique fire apparatus. Upon entering the cemetery, the truck will pass under an elongated fire truck ladder displaying the American flag.
Relatives and friends are invited to greet Dave’s family on Thursday, August 11 from 10 a.m. until his funeral at noon at the Swartz Givnish Funeral Home, 323 Washington Avenue, Newtown. Interment will follow at Newtown Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Dave’s name may be made to the Newtown Fire Association at http://www.newtownfire.com/donate.html