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Firefighter Monument Dedication
Saturday, October 25, 2014

Paul Santa Barbara III's story started and ended with firefighting.  Growing up, he longed to be a firefighter.  He met his wife Denise, during a primary election at a fire hall in Lewes.  He served for almost 30 years as a career fireman in Wilmington and later at the Millville Volunteer Fire Company for seven years.  But unlike many of his brothers, Santa Barbara did not fall in the line of duty.  His years in the Navy working in shipyards and later as a volunteer fireman took a toll on him.  In 2011, he showed signs of Mesothelioma, a disease which is often caused by exposure to asbestos.  In Santa Barbara's case, the cancer attacked his lungs.  He died August 9, 2012, about a year after showing symptoms.  In his last wishes, Santa Barbara asked to receive a fighter's burial.  On October 25, two years after his death, the Millville Fire Company gave him a second salute during a dedication of the station's first firefighter memorial.  The Santa Barbara family donated the stone memorial for Paul, as well as others who have served at the station and passed.  After her husband died, Denise wanted to give back to the fire company.  But the station's leaders felt a piece of equipment would become outdated and later put to pasture.  Rather than donate to the company's general fund, she settled on donating the first memorial to the station's fallen members.  "I think it's beautiful," she said of the monument.  "It speaks to the community and the members - they do give up a lot."  The monument will serve as a constant reminder of Paul Santa Barbara's presence.  When he first asked Millville's president, Clarke Droney, to join the station, Droney went to Wilmington for a reference.  The company sent glowing reviews of Santa Barbara, praising his frank demeanor and enthusiasm.  They said for over28 years he gave 110 percent, every day," Droney said.  A few tears were shed in the crowd of family and fellow firefighters, as a bagpipe player from the Delmarva Emerald Society played "Amazing Grace" after the dedication.  Santa Barbara's wife, children and grandchildren embraced and shared fond memories of Paul.  His daughter, Heather Santa Barbara, recalled his love of the firehouse.  "I remember the sound of the radios going off in the middle of the night," she said.  He loved to drive the firetrucks, that was his favorite thing to do.  Any time I hear the sound of firetrucks or radios, I always think of him."

“DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS PROUDLY SERVING OUR COMMUNITY”

This article is a reprint done by Delaware WAVE Staff Writer Leigh Giangreco published on October 28, 2014.

Submitted by Bob Powell, Public Information Officer

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