On April 26, a community gathered together to say goodbye to Robert "Bob" Kerns.
I met Kerns when I was 6 years old and attending elementary school with his daughter, Debbie.
We would see Kerns and the other firemen in October for Fire Prevention Week and during our tours of the fire station where we would get the chance to climb on the fire trucks. I was lucky enough to be a captain of one of those engines years later and subsequently purchased that engine from the Centerview Volunteer Fire Company of Newport, Tenn., the company who bought it in 1995.
When I returned the engine to Hollidaysburg in June 2011, I kept it a secret to surprise Kerns and the other older members. On the day I showed up at the Blue and White Snack Bar, Kerns and the other members looked like little kids again.
I took him for a ride that day, and in August of 2012, he rode with me, Hap McGunigal and others in the Grand Parade at the Central District Volunteer Firemen's Convention in Bellwood. I don't think there was anyone there that did not know him.
I had the privilege to serve as a firefighter and captain under Kerns. Through the good and the bad, the smiles and the arguments, one thing was sure: When it was over, you were still friends. When you needed a scolding you got it, but he was just as quick to give a pat on the back when you did something right.
I can hear him and the other older guys we have lost over the years talking and telling stories in that new fire station they now share. You can bet that every time the story is told the fire gets bigger and the flames get hotter.
I appreciate everything he did for me and for all of us.
Kelly L. Leydig Hollidaysburg