Member Spotlight: Donald Talbert
Donald Talbert was born 1941 in Downsville, Maryland and served in the U.S. army, as did his two younger brothers.
In 1963, when Don was just 22 years of age, he was one of the first volunteers for Company 12 in Fairplay, MD. His grandfather was the founder of the Fairplay Fire Company which consisted of one 1948 Dodge firetruck. Back in the day, there was no such thing as structured training; basically, you showed up at the fire, grabbed your gear off the fire truck and struggled to put out the fire.
Don married Donnajean whom he met in Hagerstown in 1966. In 1972 he and Donnajean moved into the North end area of Hagerstown.
This was around the same time Longmeadow Volunteer Fire Company was emerging as a fledgling fire company under the direction of Richard Baer. Don quickly signed up to volunteer, even buying his own gear. Don remembers Richard was a stickler for formal fire training. There was no central alarm at the time, only a phone in the house.
Don would continue to volunteer at Longmeadow through the present time. He has served as President, Vice President, Secretary, Lieutenant, and Chaplain. No stranger to volunteerism, he also served on the advisory board for the Salvation Army and was President and Secretary of the Longmeadow Lions Club. He is also a deacon at First Christian Church. Donnajean put in her time also, serving as the past president of the Auxiliary.
Don recalls one of the most harrowing emergencies in his fire career: In 1981, 1,000 pounds of propane sitting in tanks at Paramount Feed, threatened to explode due to extreme heat. He and other firemen fought to keep the tanks watered down and avoided disaster.
Don worked as a project engineer for 44 years at Mack Truck and said it was really his dream job as it was always interesting. While there he also developed decals for the various pieces of apparatus in existence. “Turtle” was the name for one with a particularly slow engine. “Alley Cat” was for a vehicle with an Allison transmission and a caterpillar engine. “Speedy” for a cheetah and “Bruno” for a dog.
Currently, Don is the ambassador tour guide at Mack Truck Volvo—something he really enjoys. Don has a passion for collecting toy trucks dating back to 1920. He has collected over 800 of them in his lifetime.
What does Don like best about volunteering at Longmeadow? It is the good group of people he has met here over the years who he describes as loyal and dedicated.