Men recognized for 50 years of service with West View VFD
Where there's smoke or fire, there's John Hoellerman and Wayne Groskinsky — at least in West View.
On Nov. 14, both men were honored for their distinguished service to the West View Volunteer Fire Department by Mayor J.R. Henry and borough council. Both have been part of the department for at least 50 years.
Serving in many capacities associated with the department, they have spent decades doing what they love, all the while helping others.
West View fire Chief Mark Scheller, 56, of West View has worked with both men since he joined the department 38 years ago.
“They're 100 percent dedicated. To still have that dedication for 50 years, they're a cut above,” he said.
On the 102-person roster, which includes one woman, just 58 members are active. Groskinsky and Hoellerman are among them.
“I never thought I'd live this long,” Groskinsky, 77, said about reaching a milestone 50 years with the department.
He joined West View's Company No. 2 at age 27 and stayed, achieving the rank of first lieutenant and then serving as president for 17 years. Other appointments followed long after he quit chasing fires.
The worst one was more than 40 years ago at Rook's garage on Rochester Road in West View, he remembered.
“It was 15 degrees below zero, and the water froze on our bunker clothes. When the fire was goin', it was OK.”
Back at home, his uniform literally stood in the basement.
For the last seven years, he has been president of the West View Fire Police Unit, and he has been manager of the firefighters' West View Banquet Hall for 13 years.
“I'm still going and doing what I can do to help out,” said Groskinsky, who now lives in Ross Township. “As long as I can go, I'll keep going.”
It was the persistence of John Farley, former fire department chief, that got Hoellerman involved.
He had a part-time job at the former Pennzoil gas station at the corner of Highland Avenue and Perry Highway in West View, and Farley would come in to talk to him.
Hoellerman said he didn't want to join, but Farley kept asking.
For six years before his official membership date, he helped fight fires.
“(Farley) would swear me in on site,” said Hoellerman, now of Ross Township, who finally joined in 1962.
Having been a member of the Army medical corps, he was an asset. Brandt's Funeral Home had an ambulance the department used before the borough got its own vehicle, he said.
“Back then, I was like the EMS, but I couldn't do nothin,'” he said.
He rose through the ranks in Company No. 3 and also achieved the rank of first lieutenant. He worked in the borough's public-works department for 30 years — retiring as foreman — and answered fire calls during the work day. It's a practice the public-works department still follows. In those same years, he was president of the North Suburban Fire Company and delegate to the Western Pennsylvania Firemen's Association.
Hoellerman, 82, still participates in department activities but those on the less-hazardous side.
He remembers a night at West View Park's Dance-land as a most exciting policemen's ball.
“I was out on the dance floor with my wife, Helen, and she said ‘What's that red up there?' as she pointed to the air vent.”
He climbed the stairs to find the roof on fire.
Everyone got out safely, but Danceland burned to the ground in 1973 because of an electrical fire.
Hoellerman's granddaughter, Brittney Clifford, caught a bit of his spirit. A medical assistant in a doctor's office, she is a member of the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company.
“I like helping people,” Hoellerman said. “I guess it's in me.”
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Photo Gallery: ‘Mission ...’ program at Northland Public Library
- More businesses expected at Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber career fair
- School planetariums continue to educate, amaze students
- Authors plan to meet fans at Northern Tier Library in Richland
- Young McCandless actor has roles in 2 upcoming movies
- Hampton seeks input on off-road vehicle rules
- Former German leader discusses ISIS with North Hills, North Allegheny students
- McIntyre Elementary presentation to help parents navigate social media
- North Allegheny grad makes impression at Int’l Chemistry Olympiad