Judy Lathrop, of Columbus, said she always wanted to be a firefighter when she was young, and today she has seven years of volunteer firefighting under her belt.
Lathrop said she started volunteer firefighting when she retired from nursing seven years ago.
Lathrop explained that she likes helping people. That is why she went into nursing and that is also the part of volunteer firefighting she enjoys the most.
Three of her children are involved in the Corry Fire Department, two as volunteers for the Stanford Hose Co. — Tom Lathrop Jr., and Tonja Schrecengost — and one as the Corry fire chief, Jim Lathrop.
"When I retired, my boys said, oh good, we don't have anybody in the daytime in Columbus, so you can go on the calls in the daytime," Lathrop said. "So I did, but my health has gotten bad so they demoted me."
She no longer goes on calls anymore, but still finds plenty of ways to help around the fire department.
"Our family's always been involved in the fire department," Lathrop said. "When I was a little girl, my father was a fireman."
Lathrop described growing up on her family farm. When the fire whistle would blow, if her dad was out plowing fields, her mother would run out and get his attention.
"If I could get to the pickup before he did, I was allowed to go to the fire if I stayed in the pickup," Lathrop said.
That was his rule, Lathrop added. She could go, but if she went, she couldn't get out of the truck for safety purposes.
Lathrop said her father would joke that there was something wrong with her because while her two brothers were not interested in firefighting, she would follow her dad around.
"I always wanted to be a fireman but back then women couldn't be firemen, so then I thought I'd be an emergency room nurse," Lathrop said.
The most challenging part of volunteer firefighting for Lathrop is seeing people in pain, she said.
She described her compassion for people, whether it's a firefighter who has been inside a burning structure for too long and needs to be told going back inside isn't an option until his blood pressure comes back down, or a fire victim that needs someone to talk to.
"A lot of people can't do that and I've done it my whole life so it's not a big challenge for me and it makes me feel good," Lathrop said. "When you help somebody else then you feel good."
Lathrop continued to say that it's harder to take care of people you know than people you don't know.
Lathrop expressed her wish to see more older people volunteer.
There are things that older people can do when volunteering for Stanford Hose Co., Lathrop said, such as cleaning the firehouse, washing dishes or making sandwiches when there is a big fire.