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Interest Stories

A Family of Firefighters: Anthony R.

05/03/20223 minutes

Hoosier Lottery Beneficiary, Local Police & Firefighters’ Pensions

For Anthony, being a firefighter in the Fort Wayne Fire Department wasn’t just a career. It was a family legacy. A dynasty.

In 1960, Anthony’s trailblazer father was the first African American firefighter in the city of Fort Wayne. Anthony’s uncle joined later, then his brother, and then three of his cousins.

“I got a chance to work with all of them at one point or another. It was amazing,” Anthony said. “My dad was just looking for a job to take care of his family. He didn’t realize it was going to turn into this.”

Anthony has many fond memories of his time as a firefighter and remembers the thrill of driving the giant red truck through traffic for the first time. “When I realized how much we were helping people who needed it, that’s when it became a passion,” he said.

He also recounted a moment when he realized he was part of something bigger than fighting fires. “The most inspirational thing was when some of the African-American guys who are on the job now told me they remembered seeing me sitting in front of the fire station during the summer and said that’s when they realized black people could be firefighters,” Anthony said.

Anthony experienced a sense of trust and unity with his fellow firefighters that doesn’t exist anywhere else. “We would be calmly having a meal together and then a horn goes off. Immediately you all have the same mission,” he said. “And that is to come home safely, do your job thoroughly and have pride in what you do.”

Anthony retired in 2014 after 29.5 years of service. Knowing he had a pension to rely on helped make that decision a little easier. “I really appreciated the pension during the pandemic,” Anthony said. “Knowing our mortgage was covered and we had money for utilities and food and insurance was very important.”

Anthony leads an active retirement and enjoys spending time with his beloved wife Rebecca, his kids and grandkids. He has a part-time job at the Anthis Career Center and enjoys attending the monthly firefighter retiree breakfasts. He also loves riding his motorcycle, cooking, going to jazz concerts and participating in his church.

As for what he’d tell someone interested in becoming a firefighter? “It’s not easy, but it’s fulfilling,” Anthony said. “You're going to have good and bad memories, but it’s worth the time and effort because you make friends and help people.”

The Hoosier Lottery would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Anthony and all the other firefighters who make a huge difference in the lives of so many, each and every day.

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