Alan ‘Slim’ Williams being farewelled at the Greytown Fire Station. PHOTO/ HAYLEY GASTMEIER
The Greytown fire siren sounded on Wednesday to honour a well-respected family man who served his community for decades.
Alan ‘Slim’ Williams died on Saturday, aged 88, and kept his wit and high spirits until the end.
He was a Gold Star fireman, who was on the Greytown Fire Brigade for 34 years.
His family and friends watched while brigade members formed a guard of honour outside the Main St fire station as Alan’s casket was carried on to a vintage fire truck after a service to celebrate his life.
Celebrant Pam Bailey recounted Alan’s “full and good” life, which was recorded into a story on 30-odd pages not long before he died.
He was born on February 24, 1930, in Featherston Maternity Home – his father drove his expectant mother there by motorbike in a sidecar from Tauherenikau.
When he was two, he and his elder brother decided to cut kindling with his father’s “razor sharp axe”, and a few of his fingers were “chopped to the bone”.
Alan left school when he was 13.
He had various jobs, including at the meat works, driving school buses, as a painter, and as a storeman at hospitals in Greytown and Masterton.
He also worked as an undertaker for some time and claimed it was the best job he ever had as no one ever complained.
Alan’s 34-year career as a volunteer firefighter began in 1948.
He received the Queen’s Fire Service Medal and then the Gold Star after 14 years’ and 25 years’ service respectively.
“Before Alan passed away, he was the oldest living ex-service member.”
Alan was a keen hunter and fisherman, and adored his wife Margaret, with whom he had three children – Chris, Karen, and Trina.
Margaret passed away in 1997.
Chris followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the fire service when he was 15 and serving as a firefighter for 36 years, including for a time as Greytown fire chief.
Alan was “so proud” when Chris was accepted into the fire service, particularly as Chris was lucky to survive severe burns to most of his body at the age of four.
Daughter Karen said her father had “soldiered through” and lived to a ripe age to be there for the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He was “awesome, loving, kind, amazing, naughty, sensitive, likeable, and incredibly strong”, she said.
Karen recalled her father’s knack for fixing things and picking up cars for a bargain, as well as those times when they would dine out on “naughty” KFC – “or Kentucky Duck” as Alan preferred to call it.
“Farewell you old bugger, give mum a kiss, and keep having fun,” she said
Greytown fire chief Steve Meyrick said Alan was held in high regard by his fellow firefighters.
“May his efforts be an encouragement to all those who undertake the unselfish acts for public good.”