TOWANDA — The Towanda community said goodbye to one of its finest firefighters. Arthur Johnson passed away Sunday at the age of 84 and his department honored the man they said was their mentor and friend.
“When Art walked into a room, he instantly would light up the room, if he wasn`t telling a joke it was walking up and shaking your hand and telling you how good of a job you did after the fire,” said Towanda first Assistant Chief Bill Sheets.
Chief Bill Roof and first Assistant Chief Bill Sheets said Art served 67 years at the Towanda Fire Department and served three different terms as chief. They said Art was a stellar firefighter, but an even better friend.
“I got to know art ever since I was probably eight years old, and he`s always been a character. We`re going to miss him dearly,” said Towanda Fire Department Chief Bill Roof.
Art’s life long friend Jerry Webster said Art helped train and mentor many fire fighters over the decades, won many drill competitions, all while responding to fires whenever the duty called.
“He was the backbone of the fire department and that`s how I got all my training too,” said Webster.
Firefighters in Towanda said it just won`t be the same answering calls without their friend after more than 60 years, but they`ll be doing everything they can to keep Art`s spirit alive.
“He would be honored, happy, I think proud of how he went out, what we`ve done for him. I know he`s smiling down on us right now,” said Chief Roof.
Not one firefighter thinks they can ever fill Art’s shoes, but they’ll continue to protect their community, and remember that Art will always be on their side.
“Every time you walk into a station or roll up on a call, you know Art`s going to be in the seat next to you. We`ve got another guardian angel up there looking over us, we put our life on the line every time the pager goes off. Art`s one more person up there that`s going to help keep us safe,” said first Assistant Chief Sheets.