HANNIBAL — Two men who began their careers side-by-side with the Hannibal Fire Company more than a half-century ago are now seeing their names emblazoned on the very same building.
The Parry-Travis Apparatus Bay’s new name was unveiled during a surprise ceremony recently, recognizing the decades of voluntary public service for locals George Parry Jr. and Jim Travis, both 56-year veterans of the department.
Officials described the duo as “looked up to heavily” by the department and “incredibly committed” members of the community and fire service. Both men are 77 years old.
“It’s an honor to have your name up there,” said Travis. “When you think it’s going to be there forever, I’m just in awe that it’s happened.”
Parry echoed the sentiment, saying he was totally astonished by the special ceremony.
“It was quite a surprise. It was a well-kept secret,” said Parry. “My sons were there and all of Jim’s family.”
Tim Malone, president of Hannibal Fire Company’s Board of Directors, called Parry and Travis to the department for an “announcement” last Saturday.
Little did they know officials and dozens of friends and family would honor both by naming after them the area where fire trucks and equipment are stored.
“Their friends and family started showing up and they were like ‘What’s going on?’ said Malone. “They were lost at first, but when I made the announcement, they were both quite taken away.”
County Legislator Terry Wilbur was also in attendance to applaud their years of service. Wilbur said it was a “wonderful ceremony” and he was “honored” to be in the presence of two gentlemen that have given so much.
“Both gentlemen are upstanding citizens who have given a majority of their life protecting those in Hannibal and surrounding areas,” said Wilbur, R-Hannibal. “They’re the type of gentlemen that didn’t expect to have this done for them, and they were very humble.”
Both Travis and Parry began volunteering in the early 1960s at the same time, back when 21 was the age required to enlist in the department.
“They both have been there for years with dedicated service,” said Malone, adding that both are very receptive to new ideas and “open-minded” with younger people coming into the department.
Malone said naming the apparatus bay after them made perfect sense, as both “made sure the paperwork was taken care of” back in 2000 when applying for about a $600,000 loan over 20 years.
The company recently paid off the loan early and decided to honor the two men who helped guide the project.
Malone noted the company relies on fundraisers to help pay for buildings and trucks and thanked the generosity of locals for helping raise the money to pay off the loan so quickly.
Travis was the president of the board at that time, serving at the helm for more than 20 years in total, and is still a member of the board.
Parry was the treasurer, a position he still holds on the board today, as he has for the past 35 years.
“It was a huge project that we began,” said Parry. “We had a building there that was built in 1963 and it was time for upgrades. We had to remodel the old building.”
Malone said he was delighted that the surprise went off without a hitch, and said he couldn’t think of a pair more deserving of the honor.
“They’re both really good people,” said Malone. “They were very humble and we’re lucky to have them.”