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Captiva Fire Control District bids farewell to two veterans

By Staff | May 26, 2011

Captain Don Montgomery, left, and Chief Jay Halverson with the Captiva Fire Station are retiring after more than a combined century of serving the Captiva Community.

After more than half of a century combined, the Captiva Fire Station will be losing two of its own to retirement. Outgoing Chief Jay Halverson and Captain Don Montgomery have decided to hang up their firemen’s gear and respond to the next chapter of their lives.

“I felt it was time to move on,” said Montgomery about his decision to retire.

For Halverson, it was also about the timing. His career as a fireman was sparked just after moving to Sanibel Island. A longtime friend from Halverson’s home state of Wisconsin, then Sanibel Fire Rescue District Chief John Bates, approached him and his brother Jeff about becoming volunteer firemen. That was 32 years ago.

“But who is counting,” Halverson said with a chuckle.

Like Halverson, Montgomery began his career as a volunteer fireman under former Chief Bates. At the time Bates first proposed the opportunity to Montgomery, he was managing the island store and declined.

“I turned him down twice,” recalled Montgomery.

Now after a total of 28 years, Montgomery feels he has had a great and rewarding career. His plans are to do some traveling with his wife – hop around to different resorts, relax in Atlantic City and, most importantly, spend time with the grandkids in Cincinnati.

“We are already booked between now and September,” Montgomery said.

Halverson plans to spend his newfound time with his granddaughters – one who lives on Sanibel and two others residing in Gainesville. He also has a son, who is being deployed to Afghanistan with the Army’s Infantry division.

“I’ve enjoyed all these years,” he said about being a Captiva fireman. “Things are always different…keeps it interesting.”

New Fire Chief Rich Dickerson said, “Halverson has been a big part of the station’s transition from mainly volunteer to being a paid professional department.”

While both men joined the department as volunteer firemen through Bates’ unwillingness to take no for an answer, they have been incredibly instrumental in making the department what it today, Dickerson added.

The Captiva Fire Station has existed since the late 1970s, when the same builder also erected Fire Station #2 on Sanibel-Captiva Road. About 70 percent of the Captiva Fire Station’s calls are medical in nature with the remaining 30 percent left to fire alarms.

Both men are leaving the department with very fond memories. Halverson has relished working with the volunteers who are a big part of the department, people of the Captiva community and the camaraderie felt by all.

For Montgomery, there have been so many memories throughout the years – from structure fires to saving birds tangled in trees and even alligator rescues.

A celebration in honor of their retirement will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 2 at the Captiva Civic Center, 11560 Chapin Lane. Captiva Island Businesses and Friends have donated appetizers and drinks.

Anyone who wishes to send a card to Halverson and Montgomery can mail them to: Captiva Island Fire Control District, P.O. Box 477, Captiva, FL 33924.