A familiar face that joined the New Vienna Fire Department in the 1960s is hanging up his helmet and coat after 55 years of serving his community. Henry Westhoff has dedicated the majority of his life to helping others, but at the department’s meeting, June 29, he handed in his letter of resignation.
“It is time for me to go,” Westhoff said. “We have a bunch of good young guys. It has been a very good time.”
He moved back to the area 56 years ago in the fall. The following summer, the fire department recruited him to join. His father was a member of the Fire Association, so this helped make the decision easier. He eventually held the role of fire chief for 20 years.
“He has been very dedicated to the fire department during his years,” Bill Bockenstedt, New Vienna’s fire chief, said. “He was always up at the department and his presence was always around here. He has been more than supportive.”
Westhoff played a role in so many younger firefighters’ lives as time moved along. He always had a hand in helping other firemen, from assisting with everyday things to even recruiting current members to join.
“Henry asked me to join 24 years ago and he has been a role model for me,” Mark Lueken, fire chief from 2011-19, said. “He has done a lot for the community and other firemen.”
Many credit him with being the driving force behind the new fire department getting built.
“It would not have gotten done without him,” Lueken said.
He has fought many house and barn fires during his days — some were lost, but many were saved. The night the Luxemburg church was struck by lightning sticks with him, though.
“The night we were called to the Luxemburg church,” Westhoff said, “that is one I will not forget. We saved the church that night.”
Westhoff said he will miss the people he has served with and that they have had a lot of good times together.
Many firefighters have served with Westhoff, and he took the time to share gratitude for being part of his life.
“I want to thank past and present members for everything over the years,” Westhoff said. “I am sure that I will see you down the road.”