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Lake Wales Veteran Retires after 29 years

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  • Lake Wales Veteran Retires after 29 years

    Time to Retire From Hot Career

    By Bill Bair
    The Ledger

    LAKE WALES -- Larry Lasseter decided to become a firefighter when he was in the fourth grade.

    That's when firefighters from the Lake Wales Fire Department showed up with a big red truck and fire hoses at Hillcrest Elementary School.

    On Saturday, Lasseter retired after spending 29 years with that Lake Wales department.

    "He's very dependable. He's going to be very much missed," Chief Tom Tucker said.

    At 53, Lasseter said he can still fight fires with the best of them, but he knows he's lost a step or two.

    "I don't want to get hurt, or to hurt anybody," Lasseter said.

    And he does not want to have to work through another hurricane season.

    What he does want to do "is spend time with my four grandbabies."

    He wants to spend that time without worrying about his pager going off at Christmas, on the Fourth of July, during birthday celebrations and at other events.

    As a firefighter, Lasseter said he was always on call.

    And some of those calls were painful. He said it "brought a tear to my eye" when the old Lake Wales High School burned down during in 1977. It was the school Lasseter graduated from in 1970.

    People still call him by the nickname "Hawk," which he picked up while playing high school football. "I was an aggressive player and always around the ball," he said.

    After high school, Lasseter worked construction for a while, then became a firefighter Sept. 5, 1975. He was 23 and he was paid $3.10 per hour. His annual salary at retirement was $47,473.

    "I was blessed to get into the trade I wanted to be in," Lasseter said.

    But there was the downside. "I've seen so much death and turmoil," Lasseter said. Wrecks have a strong impact when they involve people you know, or the children of people you know.

    "All that adds up after a while."

    Lasseter said he dealt with it by becoming a born-again Christian. "He got me through it."

    In retirement, Lasseter said he "will do what the Lord tells me to do."

    "I know a lot of people who need help," he said.

    Lasseter plans to do some farming, possibly working with recently released prison inmates.

    And he plans to "see some kinfolk I haven't been able to see for a while."

    He will visit them in North Florida and in Georgia, the state his father left in the 1930s to go to work for Florida Citrus Canners, which was the forerunner to what is now Florida's Natural.

    Lasseter also plans to fish and hunt.

    And he will drop by the Fire Department regularly for coffee.

    "I've done all my growing up right here," Lasseter said. "I'm going to miss everyone here."

    Bill Bair can be reached at [email protected] or 863-6767118.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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