Charter Member Has Seen Many Changes

APRIL 22, 2002

By Dan Reany
The Winchester Star

Virginia Ruckman was a charter member of Shawnee Volunteer Fire and Rescue Co. with her husband, Elmo. Fifty years later, she’s still volunteering.

“We started raising money in 1952,” said Ruckman, who is now 82. “Before the fire company was built we had to have money for the first truck. We got food for dinners by going door to door. I walked my legs off.”

The fire company was originally located on Featherbed Lane, in the mill across Abrams Creek from Pep Boys. The part of the structure where the company was housed has since been torn down.

Shawnee moved to its current location in 1957.

Back in the old days, “Us wives had to get up in the cold of the night to call people whenever there was a fire,” Ruckman said. “We went through a lot to get this all started.”

When Shawnee was first created, it was a Frederick County company that serviced everything out U.S. 50 West, from Greenwood south to the city line, and west out Cedar Creek Grade to Middle Road, according to Chief Russ Kerns.

The company now serves Jubal Early Drive to Pleasant Valley Avenue and south toward Kernstown to the Frederick County line, Kerns said.

In Ruckman’s day there weren’t any female firefighters, but the new building will be complete with men’s and women’s showers and other spaces.

It’ll also be across the street from Ruckman’s home, so she’ll be in easy walking distance to lend a helping hand.

“She’s still a very active member here,” said Company President Jay Bailey. “You don’t find people who put 50 years into anything anymore. We’re proud of her.”