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Out of loss, welcome aid for firefighters

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Betty Williamson, her daughter, Amanda, and son, John were on hand Sunday afternoon to present a donation of firefighting equipment to Halifax County’s 12 fire departments. The items were purchased with memorial contributions made in the name of the county forester, who died in 2010. (SOMcL photo) / March 10, 2014
Of all the memorials to late county forester Alex Williamson, perhaps none are more fitting than the gift of firefighting equipment made in his name Sunday in South Boston.

With his wife and children looking on, representatives of Halifax County’s 12 fire departments accepted an assortment of much-needed equipment — chain saws, custom fire hoses and safety equipment — that was purchased with contributions made to the family in the wake of Williamson’s untimely death in a 2010 traffic crash in North Carolina.

Betty Williamson, son John and daughter Amanda thanked fire chiefs, department representatives and volunteers for their work to protect the community as the equipment was distributed. “Alex had a special place in his heart for firefighters,” said Betty Williamson, recalling her late husband’s career with the Forestry Department and his many interactions with local firefighters.

“He would have been elated to know these devoted individuals were given equipment and supplies needed in order to provide a safe community. I encourage everyone to support their local fire departments any way possible. Without these men and women’s expertise, knowledge and commitment we would all be experiencing monumental catastrophes,” she said.

“Their hard work, dedication and loyalty, in my opinion, make them true heroes.”

According to South Boston Fire Chief Steve Phillips, who worked with Williamson on obtaining the equipment, local fire chiefs were requested to make a wish list of needed equipment. Lt. Daniel Clark with the South Boston Department handled the lion’s share of the work obtaining pricing and delivery of the goods.

Williamson said she founded the Alex Williamson Fund shortly after her husband was killed in the freak traffic crash. Funds came from memorial contributions made in Williamson’s name, not only from Halifax County but also from Pittsylvania and Mecklenburg counties.

“This is really nice, and much needed,” said Virgilina Fire Chief Ralph Murray as he carted away some of his department’s new equipment. Each of the 12 departments received an equal share of the $9,500 spent on various pieces of firefighting gear.

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