Longtime Deadwood firefighter to be honored at annual chili feed Sunday

From left, Sandy Glover, Bob Nelson, Jerry Pontius, and Bill Glover, all longtime Deadwood volunteer firefighters, gathered at the fire hall Thursday in honor of Nelson’s honorary guest status for Sunday’s annual community chili feed. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — It’s not too often a volunteer firefighter sticks around for more than three decades. Deadwood volunteer firefighter Bob Nelson, Sr. hung in there for 33 years. 

As a result of his service and dedication to the department and the community, Nelson will be honored at the annual Deadwood Volunteer Fire Department free chili feed from 3-7 p.m. Sunday at the fire hall, with a 4 p.m. recognition ceremony for Nelson, followed up by Monday being declared Bob Nelson, Sr. Day throughout the town of Deadwood.

“Bob was always big back in the kitchen during this event,” explained Deadwood Volunteer Fire Department administrative assistant/firefighter Sandy Glover. “He decided to retire, due to his health, back in August, so we said, let’s have his celebration be at the chili feed because he was always a big part of it and so the community could be a part of it, as well, to thank him for his service. He was with us 33 years, and even though he retired, he will still be an honorary firefighter because he’s one of us.”

During his tenure, Nelson served in many capacities, including president, vice president, and captain of the department.

“He’s really been an integral part of the department,” Glover said. “I guess when he gave us his resignation, it was one of the hardest things he ever did. He’s a great guy and we’re going miss him, but we’re not letting him off the hook that easy. He’ll still be an honorary firefighter and invited to all our events.”

The chili feed is free, traditionally held on the fall Sunday featuring daylight savings time, and it features chili, hot dogs, nachos and cheese, and drinks, including coffee, milk, lemonade, and chocolate milk.

“The goal of the chili feed itself is community service, to thank the community for supporting the fire department. It is also time to ‘Change Your Clock, Change Your Batteries,’” said Glover, estimating average annual attendance to be between 250 and 275. 

A limited number of smoke detectors will be given away, as well as free batteries.

“We’ll also be giving away door prizes every hour to adults,” Glover said. “And fire truck rides for kids of any age, so if adults want to ride, they can, too.” 

Donations to help deter the cost of the chili feed, while not expected, are accepted.

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