"There was talk about a party down here, but no one asked me to come so I wasn't going to," South said as Brazil City firefighters Jake Bennett, Troy McQueen and Chris Moon entered the room with two birthday cakes. "I'm glad I came. This is one of the biggest surprises I've had in a while."
Appointed in 1942 and serving five townships until 1963, South is the oldest surviving retired firefighter from the Brazil City Fire Department. He served as the firefighters' first union secretary and is honored for his years of service on a plaque at City Hall.
"I shined that brass fire pole many times during my 21 years," South said. "I liked being a firefighter. We were the first ones on a scene and we worked like the dickens to get the job done."
An Air Force veteran from World War II, South feels firefighters have not received enough credit over the years.
"After 9/11, people began to notice firefighters, but it's just not enough," South told The Brazil Times, as his eyes began to fill with tears. "They're the bravest people in the world."