Firefighter enjoys giving back to the community that helped him
Published 10:32 am Friday, November 8, 2013
HUNTERDALE—Hunterdale Volunteer Fire Chief David Blythe said with a smile that firefighting runs in the family.
It would seem that he is right.
Blythe is a third-generation firefighter, while his son Clay, also with Hunterdale, is the fourth. Number one and two were Blythe’s grandfather and father, who were members of the Franklin department.
“Being a firefighter is something that just grows on you, I think,” Blythe said.
“I remember trailing along behind my dad when he went over to the firehouse. I enjoyed being there with him and there was never a question—I knew I’d follow in his footsteps when I got old enough.”
Blythe said he’s happy that his son felt the same way.
“This is one way we can give back just a little of what our community has done for us,” he added.
The young chief was referring to his recent illness, when the entire community stepped in to help him and his family.
“I came down with a rare blood disease,” he said. “I couldn’t work and lost an enormous amount of weight. In fact, I was in a wheelchair for several months.
“It is not cancer, but they treat you as if it were.”
Blythe said he took treatment and is now in remission. “I feel good and have gone back to work.”
He added that he is grateful for the assistance of his community.
“They had several fundraisers and helped us in every way they could. I’ll never be able to repay them,” he continued.
Blythe, 47, was raised in the Hunterdale community, graduated from Southampton High School and attended Paul D. Camp Community College.
He worked with his father in his carpentry business for a while after college, then International Paper, and then he was the building and grounds supervisor at the county prison when he became ill.
He began working for VDOT after he recuperated from his illness.
Blythe has been a member of Hunterdale Fire Department for 33 years, and has served as chief for 12.
“I feel like this is my home away from home,” he said. “Aside from the good the 60-member department does, of course, the members here are like one big happy family.”
“And that includes our wives and daughters,” he said, adding that his wife and daughter are there as well.
“They are members of the department auxiliary and, I’m proud to say, they have our backs, so to speak.
“For instance, when we are fighting a big fire, they are here, feeding us sandwiches and coffee, treating our wounds if any of us has one and keeping up our strength and our moral.”
Blythe also praises the department for its dedication. “We are volunteer and sometimes it’s not possible for some of us to get here, but we still have good participation,” he continued.
When it comes to raising money, the chief noted that his department has two or three annually.
“Our barbeque seems to be one of our biggest,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a good seller. People who have tried it always come back the next year.”
Blythe said the latest barbeque fundraiser was just last week. However, it didn’t last long.
“We cooked almost 900 pounds of pork and made it into barbeque. We had it all packaged and opened the doors at 4 p.m.
“We were amazed. By 4:41 p.m., we had sold out.”
NAME: David Blythe
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: I was born here.
OCCUPATION: I work for VDOT in bridge maintenance.
HOMETOWN: Hunterdale, Va.
MARITAL STATUS: Married to Rachel Blythe for 26 years.
CHILDREN, AGES AND SCHOOLS: We have a daughter, Mollie Patricia Strozier, a graduate of Virginia Tech, and a son, Clay, who attends Paul D. Camp College.
FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: My wife and I like to go out to eat.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: We like all the local restaurants.
FAVORITE FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Steak or seafood and Pepsi.
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I am an Eagle Scout.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOU: I usually get along with everybody, and I try to be helpful.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: I can’t say no.
PETS: We have a dog, part husky and part golden retriever, named J.T.
FAVORITE HOBBIES: I like to hunt and fish.
PET PEEVE: I don’t like people who don’t do what they say they’re going to.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB: Cutting grass.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As a person who always tried to help others.
IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: I would talk about the decline of morals and values in our country. The condition our country is in today is not what our forefathers had in mind when they founded it. We need leaders who respect the early laws and who will strive to turn the country around. Parents should also teach their children to learn about the government of our country and urge them to work toward getting it back to the way it was in the beginning.