Police & Fire

Towaco Board of Fire Commissioners Honors Firefighters with Decades of Service

Wm MacStudy (Pres), Spooner Peer, Scott Russell (Treas), Robert Peer, K Breeman (Chief), Robert Grey, M Ward (VP), Joe Gretkowski, John Connelly (Cmsr).Not shown John Misiewicz (Dstr Clerk) Credits: Courtesy of Towaco Volunteer Fire Department

MONTVILLE, NJ – When you’re a newbie firefighter, you don’t want to make a mistake. So when the other firefighters tell you to “foot the ladder,” or hold on to the base as the other firefighters climb up, you hold on tight and don’t let go, despite cascades of water pouring down on you in sub-zero weather.

It was Towaco volunteer firefighter Spooner Peer’s first house big fire response when he started with the department in 1967.

“I held on tight and didn’t let go – but the water froze to my turnout coat the minute it hit,” he recently told TAPinto Montville with a laugh. “My arms froze stiff! They had to hit the ice with a hammer to get my arms off. I’ll never forget that!”

Sign Up for E-News

Peer, his brother Robert, Joe Gretkowski and Robert Grey were recently honored for their many decades of service with the Towaco Volunteer Fire Department at the department’s annual banquet May 12.

Spooner remembers being able to see the fire station from his bedroom as a boy growing up in Towaco.

“When the whistle blew, I would jump out of bed to watch the garage doors open at the station,” Spooner recalled. “It got me excited to join later.”

Another fact that got him interested in joining the fire department was Montville schools didn’t have enough room in Towaco for all the students, so the fourth grade was held in the fire station.

“They curtained off two classrooms upstairs,” Spooner recalled. “When the whistle blew, the teacher would let us go to the window and watch the fire engines leaving. That was exciting for us. That got me interested in joining, too.”

Spooner joined in 1967 and was recently honored for his 50 years of service. He also served as captain from 1973-1978 and assistant chief from 1979-1988. He worked for the Department of Public Works for 38 years and has since retired. He is married to Susan and has three sons, James, Michael and David.

Spooner’s brother Robert Peer joined the department in 1962 and was honored for his 55 years of service.

“I joined back then because there wasn’t much to do in Towaco,” Robert said. “There was no place to hang out but to volunteer and help out the town. I joined to do a service and help out the town’s people.”

Robert was chief from 1974-75 and again from 1986-87. He also worked for the Department of Public Works. He is married to Diana and has two sons, Robert and Mark, and five grandchildren.

Joe Gretkowski was honored for his 40 years with the fire department.

He was born and raised in Jersey City, he said, and didn’t know much about volunteering until he met his wife.

“My father-in-law was a very active firefighter in Wallingon, and I saw what he was doing, so when we moved to Towaco I applied here – and I’m still doing it,” he said.

Gretkowski said he was president of the department for two years and treasurer for 27. When asked about anecdotes regarding his time in the department, though, he won’t share.

“What happens in Vegas…” he said with a laugh.

Gretkowski was in the Army from 1966 to 1968 and served as a supply sergeant. He worked for United Parcel Service until he retired in 2002, and worked at a golf course for 13 years following that.

“I told them at the golf course two years ago, ‘I’m turning 70; it’s time to have fun’ – which I’m doing,” Gretkowski said.

He said he is still very active with the fire department and even responds to calls in middle of night. He visits retired firefighters at the New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton every week, too.

“Some of them have no one,” he said.

Gretkowski is married to Joan and they have two daughters, Kelly and Nancy, and two grandsons. The couple still lives in Towaco.

Robert Grey was honored for his 40 years with the fire department. Grey was chief from 1990-1991.

Firefighting runs in the family, because Grey’s son Robert, Jr. is a firefighter in Virginia, he said, and son Bill is assistant chief with the Towaco department.

“And I still respond to calls,” he said.

Grey still lives in Towaco. He has a daughter who lives in Branchville.

It doesn’t sound like any of those honored are going anywhere, either, because the firefighters are a close-knit group.

“You really have a camaraderie in the fire department,” said Spooner Peer. “It is so special. We are so close. You get together and they become your good friends - it’s like your own family.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Montville

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_68ed61223e200ef2a78f_montville_township_public_library

Mon, November 27

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

CLOSED - Montville Twp Public Library

Education

Carousel_image_c9d9d9b244a8c13cc32e_img_5625

Mon, November 27, 10:00 AM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

CANCELLED: Story Time at Library

Arts & Entertainment

Mon, November 27, 7:00 PM

Montville Township Senior House, Montville

Montville Republican Club Meeting

Government

Carousel_image_68ed61223e200ef2a78f_montville_township_public_library

Tue, November 28

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

CLOSED - Montville Twp Public Library

Education

Carousel_image_2f5e22fedbc0839027fd_township_logo

Tue, November 28, 8:00 PM

Municipal Building, Montville

Montville Township Committee Meeting

Government

Montville Kiwanis Announces Annual Holiday Turkey Drive

November 21, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Kiwanis Club of Montville announces their annual township-wide holiday turkey drive for the Montville Kiwanis Food Pantry, now in operation for more than seven years.

Donations of small and medium frozen turkeys, turkey breasts and hams, can be dropped off at three locations:

Stonybrook Realty, 630 Main Road in Towaco, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 ...

Girl Scouts Host Teddy Bear Tea Fundraiser to Help Refugees

November 18, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – About fifty girls attended a Teddy Bear Tea hosted by Girl Scout Troop 4916, seventh graders at Lazar.

Four of the girls in the 11-girl troop created the party as a fundraiser for their Girl Scout Silver Award. Joleen Amer, Sara LoPresti, Ridhee Maddula and Rebekah Mathew chose working with refugees as the focus of their project.

“We wanted to help children in ...

Veterans Speak About Their War Experiences at Montville Library

November 10, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – Residents gathered at the Montville Township Public Library on Nov. 9 to hear the stories of veterans from VFW Post 5481, a rare treat for even fellow members of the post, one post member said.

Gerry Gemian, who served in the Pacific in World War II and was a Staff Sergeant in the Army, wanted to explain about the Pacific theater.

“I saw action in the Marshall ...

Montville Township High School Mustangs “Buy-A-Brick” Fundraiser

November 14, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – Pave the way to support MTHS athletics and create a lasting legacy! The Montville Mustangs Association invites you to become a permanent part of Montville Township High School by purchasing a personalized, engraved commemorative brick for a planned patio to be located in front of the high school, surrounding the Mustang statue. 

Bricks are $100 for a 4” by ...

Layups 4 Life Charity Hoops Tourney Leaves Roxbury

November 21, 2017

ROXBURY, NJ - For the first time since its inception in 2014 by a Roxbury High School graduate, the popular Layups 4 Life 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament will not take place in Roxbury in 2018.

Tournament founder Dan Exter has moved the event to the Parsippany PAL Youth Center, a venue that offers more room than the Roxbury High School gymnasium. The departure ...

A Holiday Feast For Train Fans Is On Display At The Model Railroad Center

November 23, 2017

Looking for something to do the day after Thanksgiving? Drop in to the Model Railroad Center and enjoy a festive sound and light show highlighting a sprawling, meticulously detailed HO layout.

See if you can spot the Batmobile and other surprises!

Snack bar, toddler rest area and gift shoppe conveniently located on site. Modest admission fee goes to support the non-profit Model Railroad ...

A Holiday Feast For Train Fans Is On Display At The Model Railroad Center

November 23, 2017

Looking for something to do the day after Thanksgiving? Drop in to the Model Railroad Center and enjoy a festive sound and light show highlighting a sprawling, meticulously detailed HO layout.

See if you can spot the Batmobile and other surprises!

Snack bar, toddler rest area and gift shoppe conveniently located on site. Modest admission fee goes to support the non-profit Model Railroad ...

Columns

Family Health

Be Aware of Pancreatic Cancer’s Warning Signs

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and nationally renowned gastrointestinal (GI) cancer physician-scientist Angela Alistar, MD thinks it is critical that everyone learn how to recognize the warning signs of this aggressive cancer. Dr. Alistar is medical director of GI medical oncology at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center of Morristown Medical Center, Atlantic Health ...

Open Houses this Weekend Presented by Century 21

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 Open Houses this weekend:

Saturday, Nov. 18 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using FGPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
8 Summit Drive, Bld #10, North Caldwell

Sunday, Nov. 19 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using FGPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
8 ...

AtlantiCast: Episode 007

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll see how Atlantic Health System is driving innovation and finding new ways to solve tomorrow’s health care challenges, find out how a near tragedy on the tennis courts was averted thanks to some world-class training and technology at Chilton Medical Center and meet the 70 cancer doctors you need to know about – plus much ...

Why Parenting is Harder for Parents of Teens

My husband forwarded an article to me, “The thing about raising teenagers that no one wants to say out loud.” (link below)  It hit me… hard… so hard that I felt compelled to share and expand on it.  If your family is struggling, you’ll definitely relate.  It’s all too true, and I experienced it, too.

Therapists and coaches can help you ...

Pet Corner