Paying Tribute to One-Time Fire Chief

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SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT -- Firefighters paid tribute Thursday to the oldest member of a fire company in South Williamsport who died over the weekend, a one-time chief and long-time friend.

Charles Swinehart Sr. died over the weekend at the age of 93.

Swinehart's five children remember their father for a lot of things but one sticks out: volunteering with the First Ward Fire Company, even serving as chief in the 1960's.

Photos show a big smile on Swinehart's face all those years ago, fighting fires, being part of something important.

"They adopted him, he was their father and grandfather, they went up to pick him up to take rides in the fire truck whenever they got a new one, put him in the Mummers parade," said Charles Swinehart, Jr.

Charles Junior remembers the joy his father experienced during the parade last fall when "Chief," as he was affectionately known, rode in the front seat of the fire engine.

When the funeral was over, the procession drove directly under an American flag held high by two ladder trucks.

Swinehart went by many a nickname, including Bud, and Little Charlie. He was a lifetime member of the First Ward Fire Company in South Williamsport. He had been involved since the 1940's.

"You have to honor him, and their service. And dedication they've had and their families have. Being a volunteer it takes a toll on your family," said Assistant Chief Peter Zielewicz.

Fellow firefighters said Swinehart gave his all to the fire company and to his family until the end.

He leaves behind a wife, five children and an entire fire squad in South Williamsport.