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  • This is a Cool Story!

    Love of fire fighting sparks a friendship

    Two very different individuals are drawn together

    Sunday, August 20, 2006


    The Register-Mail

    GALESBURG - Fire engines are the common denominator in a 24-year friendship between a Galesburg firefighter and a developmentally disabled man.
    Firefighter Mike Wilder befriended Payton Moye about 24 years ago when Wilder was working at the Quick Stop convenience store on South Academy Street. He also then had just started his job with the fire department.

    "Groups of St. Mary's Square residents would come into the store and buy ice cream," said Wilder, 47. "Payton was one of them, and we started talking. It just took off from there."

    St. Mary's Square is a residential facility for adults with developmental disabilities. Moye has lived there since 1979.

    Wilder learned of Moye's intense interest in anything having to do with fire trucks and fire fighting. At the time, Wilder worked at the downtown central fire station, and Moye came to visit more frequently because it's closer to St. Mary's Square Living Center, where Moye lives.

    Now, Moye gets a ride from a St. Mary's Square team leader to see Wilder at the new fire station on West Fremont Street about once a month. Moye calls Wilder once a week to talk.

    KENT KRIEGSHAUSER/The Register-Mail

    Galesburg firefighter Mike Wilder, left, and St. Mary's Square resident Payton Moye walk from the bay area of the Fremont Street station after spending time there Tuesday.

    "He used to come to visit with the others in groups, then me and Payton got closer and closer. Then, it was more one on one," Wilder said.
    Soon Wilder began a tradition of giving Moye a book about fire trucks and fire fighting for Christmas every year. Moye studies the books, though he can't read, and he can talk at length about them.

    Moye, 64, was born in Chicago, and recalls going for a ride in 1957 when he was about 15 on a 1907 fire engine there. "Engine eight, truck four," he says, repeatedly. He peppers Wilder with questions about how the Galesburg Fire Department works: What rural areas does the department cover? What stations used to use horse-drawn fire wagons? Why doesn't the department use tanker trucks? Why do some cities use yellow fire engines? Why do some use white?

    Wilder patiently tries to answers all questions.

    "If you tell him something, he doesn't forget it," Wilder said of Moye. "He's very knowledgeable. He likes to watch the news, he really follows it," Wilder said. "He's on top of it whenever there's a fire anywhere."

    A former coach and current high school basketball referee, Wilder likes to work with people and says he gets a lot out of his friendship with Moye.

    "It's a pleasure for me, for him to be here," said Wilder. "It's a beautiful thing; I really enjoy it."

    "I like Mike," Moye said. "He's OK. He's my friend."
    Pretty cool, huh?
    Visit www.iacoj.com
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  • #2
    Originally posted by ChiefReason
    Pretty cool, huh?
    No. Very cool!

    Fire Lieutenant/E.M.T.
    IAFF Local 2339
    K of C 4th Degree
    Member I.A.C.O.J.
    "Fir na tine"


    • #3
      Nice find Chief!!!
      Jack of all trades, master of none.

      Live Green, Go Yellow!

      Join the forums at www.ambulass.com!


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