Joe Pautler received the Union Chamber of Commerce’s Golden Achievement Award Saturday night.

A tip of the hat to the Chamber for selecting another deserving candidate for the second installment of this honor. It couldn’t have picked a better role model for volunteer service.

Pautler, 91, a Union native, has spent the majority of his life giving back to the community he calls home. He’s done so in a quiet, unassuming way. But the body of his work is nothing short of remarkable.

In December, Pautler was honored for 75 years of service to the Union Fire Department. He began volunteering for the department as a high school student during World War II because many of the adult firemen had been drafted.

Back then, Pautler and a handful of other students rode bicycles to the fire station or directly to the fires. His passion for firefighting stayed with Pautler throughout his life and over thousands of calls.

Over his lengthy volunteer fire career, Pautler would serve in a number of key leadership roles in the department, including treasurer, rescue lieutenant, second assistant chief and training captain. He would later serve as the first fire marshal after the Union Fire Protection District was established in 1973.

Pautler also would sometimes use his own flooring equipment to clean and scrub floors for people who had been affected by disasters.

As a volunteer department, firefighters had to raise their own funds, which they did primarily through summer picnics.

Pautler set up popcorn, snow cone and cotton candy machines to help raise money. They also set up booths at the Fair throughout the years.

Pautler is still active in the department and continues to ride in parades, volunteers to display antique equipment at history fairs and helps with other activities, including judging the annual fire prevention poster contest.

Union Fire Chief Russ Hamilton called Pautler an “inspiration” and someone today’s youth could learn a lot from. Hamilton’s praise is spot on. Pautler is the definition of a role model.

Pautler’s volunteer service extends beyond the fire department. He served 10 years as an EMT with the Union Ambulance volunteer service. For 40 years, he was active with the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion, where he participated in and helped with many service events and activities.

Pautler currently serves on the board of appeals for the Franklin County Building Department and on the County Seat Senior Center Support Committee.

The World War II Navy veteran exemplifies the term “Greatest Generation.” His devotion to serving others and his community is truly worthy of recognition. 

Congratulations, Mr. Pautler!