The students at the Pettis County Early Childhood Cooperative had some special visitors Monday.
Capt. Barry White and Firefighters Bill Twenter, John Clarke and Larry Newbill of the Sedalia Fire Department spoke to the students about fire safety and prevention, even allowing the students to sit in a fire truck and giving them firefighter badge stickers and hats.
Many of the children may have gone home dreaming of becoming a firefighter.
That wasn’t Newbill’s dream when he was a little boy — like many others he dreamed of becoming a Major League Baseball player; a firefighter was perhaps his second choice.
“When I was young I wanted to play baseball,” Newbill said. “I was so serious about it that I tried out at the Kansas City Baseball Academy in 1971.
“I tried out as a pitcher,” he added. “But it didn’t work out.”
Newbill said sometimes that is what happens in life and although he didn’t get to play for the Royals, he is happy with the direction his life took.
“The fire department and the City of Sedalia have been very good to me,” Newbill said. “If I didn’t like what I was doing I wouldn’t have stayed at it for 42 years.
“The best thing has been the people, like today getting to work with the little ones here at the school, I enjoy things like this,” he added. “All the people I have worked with at the department and the people with the city over the years … it’s been good.”
Newbill has reason to think of the people he has met as he reflects on his time with the department. After more than 42 years of service, Newbill is retiring next year.
“By working for the department all these years they helped me to start my own business,” Newbill said. “I own Wax-a-Car, a car detailing business on North Ohio (Avenue).
“I’ve had it for 32 years and that’s what I do for enjoyment and relaxation,” he said. “I’m looking forward to spending time there and spending more time with my wife and family.”
He added that it will be nice not having to get up in the middle of the night to answer a call.
Getting used to not having 24-hour shifts one day and then two days off may take a little getting used to as well.
The veteran firefighter said he had many memories of his years of service adding that the Thanksgiving Day fire in 2015 was perhaps the worst fire he had witnessed first-hand, as well as memories of his baseball tryout 45 years ago.
“I’m about the only one that I know of from Sedalia who tried out at the baseball academy in Kansas City,” Newbill said. “I got to tryout and play with people like Frank White and U.L. Washington.
“It’s pretty neat, I mean how many people can say that they got to tryout and play on the field in Kansas City,” he added. “I have no regrets though with the way things turned out; it’s been a real good life.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.