ShareThis Page

Longtime Greensburg fire chief is inaugural 'Distinguished Alumni'

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Members of a Greensburg Salem Education Foundation committee needed to hear only one name when considering who should be the group's inaugural “Distinguished Alumni.”

This past spring, member Tom Abraham nominated J. Edward Hutchinson — Greensburg's long-serving fire chief — and the nominations abruptly halted.

“He was a slam dunk,” Abraham said. “Everybody agreed.”

“It was a unanimous vote,” added Suzanne Wright, foundation chairwoman.

Hutchinson, a 1939 Greensburg High School graduate who is in his 60th year as Greensburg fire chief, will be honored during a banquet Nov. 2 at Lakeview Restaurant on Route 30, west of Greensburg.

Retired Maj. Gen. Tom Jones, founder of the Outdoor Odyssey program, which Greensburg Salem students take part in, will serve as guest speaker.

“To us, he's an icon,” Anita Leonard, co-chairperson of the selection committee with Abraham, said of Hutchinson. “He's a role model for all generations.”

The foundation was formed in 2012 and seeks to help the school district to fund academic, arts and athletic programs. The committee consists of district representatives and community leaders.

The award goes to a Greensburg Salem graduate who has served the community and been a role model, committee members said. The foundation will raise money through the banquet and plans on continuing to bestow the honor in future years, possibly to more than one candidate yearly.

“It's for a good cause,” Hutchinson said of the honor.

Abraham, a 1961 West Point graduate, said he noticed Hutchinson's involvement in the community when he returned to the area about 15 years ago.

“Every place I went, his name was behind the private funding,” he said. “And when there's a fire in town, he's out on top of the roof directing traffic.”

“I don't think anyone felt there's anyone in Greensburg that's done more,” Wright said.

Hutchinson's accomplishments include:

• Helped establish one of the first dive teams in the state, which has grown to include a swift-water rescue team active throughout the region and beyond.

• Founded a bloodhound team to help in the search of missing people and fugitives.

• Worked with local officials to start the Mutual Aid ambulance service.

• Led fundraising efforts to build The Aerobic Center, Greensburg's state-of-the-art fitness facility and indoor pool.

• Helped to build workout facilities at Greensburg Salem High School.

• Built pavilions and a soccer field at the city's Mt. Odin Park.

• Helped establish the Five Star Trail, an extensive walking and biking trail stretching from Greensburg to Youngwood.

Many people don't know the extent of Hutchinson's community service, Leonard said.

“He's helped many people behind the scenes that no one's aware of,” she said.

“He doesn't do things for recognition,” Abraham added. “He does it out of the goodness of the heart. That's a special person.”

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.