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Dayhoff: Tribute to passing of three Carroll countians who made a difference

Recently Carroll County has lost a number of folks who have lived in our community and helped shape the high quality of the life we enjoy in our community today.

Three of these great Carroll countians include Westminster Fire Department EMS Captain Ritchie Raver, Taneytown Mayor Bob Flickinger, and Vietnam veteran Billy “Burns” Millberry.

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Recently our community lost three great Carroll countians who made a great contribution to the quality of life that we enjoy today in Carroll County. From left to right: Westminster Fire Department EMS Captain Ritchie Raver, Taneytown Mayor Bob Flickinger, and Vietnam veteran Billy “Burns” Millberry. Kevin Dayhoff digital collage with submitted photos.
Recently our community lost three great Carroll countians who made a great contribution to the quality of life that we enjoy today in Carroll County. From left to right: Westminster Fire Department EMS Captain Ritchie Raver, Taneytown Mayor Bob Flickinger, and Vietnam veteran Billy “Burns” Millberry. Kevin Dayhoff digital collage with submitted photos. (Kevin Dayhoff)

Much of the interest in Carroll County history is focused upon certain dates, buildings or roads; but what really makes our county great are its people. We have been blessed by so many great folks who have gone before us and remain inextricably interwoven into the fabric of what we are today as a county.

Their accomplishments are the stuff of folklore and legend, but their day-to-day struggle to make a difference must have been the stuff of great sacrifice and all too frequent heartbreak.

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Millberry was known for many years as the “mayor” of Union Street in Westminster. He was born on May 9, 1948, and died on Dec. 26, 2020. My friend and fellow Vietnam veteran, Walter Groomes – the current “mayor” of Union Street – said in a phone interview about his post on Facebook about Millberry, “It was just yesterday we talked. They call u the mayor of Union Street. Always got u to go to some Vietnam events … Being a vet I will miss seeing u around on the street. U have served us well. Gone too soon. RIP SOLDIER SALUTE…” Condolences poured on the Facebook page of Groomes, Emily Willis-Dorm; and Andrea Mack, who paid tribute to Millberry, her godfather.

According to his obituary on the Pritts Funeral Home website, Millberry “was a veteran of the United States Army and served during the Vietnam era and was an active member of the American Legion Carroll Post #31. He was a machinist and worked at many companies such as Congoleum, Black & Decker, Woodstream, and Random House until his retirement in 1998... [He] had an infectious spirit…He was a faithful Christian and member of Fairview United Methodist Church …” He was buried at the Maryland Veteran Cemetery at Garrison Forest with full military honors.

“William Robert “Bob” Flickinger, 88, of Taneytown, who served three terms as the city’s mayor, died Jan. 1 at Lorien Taneytown from pneumonia brought on by complications of COVID-19. Flickinger had a dedicated history of public service to his family and the Taneytown community, say those who knew him,” according to a wonderful tribute, “‘Taneytown is better because he lived there’: Former mayor Flickinger remembered for dedication to faith, family, community,” written by Carroll County Times writer Megan Woodward, published on Jan. 4.

“Flickinger was born Dec. 3, 1932 in Tyrone, Maryland and married his wife, Fairy, on June 30, 1957 while serving in the U.S. Army from 1955-58. They were married for 63 years. He worked at Random House, Inc. in Westminster for 26 years and retired in 1993…

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“He served as mayor of Taneytown for three terms (1978-79, 1995-99, and 2003-07) and he was a Taneytown city councilman for more than 16 years. He was inducted into the Municipal League Hall of Fame in 1997 after serving more than 20 years in public office…” according to the article by Woodward.

Raver died Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, at the age of 52. He served as a member of the Westminster Fire Department since October of 1986 and over the years became a decorated officer who was held in high regard by his peers. He was known for acts of courage, bravery and valor in the performance of his duties in hazardous conditions.

On a number of calls over the years he demonstrated performance that was beyond the call of duty at personal risk and having been instrumental in rescuing and saving lives.

His awards and recognitions included having been decorated as the Westminster Fire Department 1997 firefighter of the year. He was awarded his life membership ribbon in 2011. Other commendations include specific recognitions of the performance of his duties noted by Westminster citizens, the Westminster Common Council, and other officers of the department. Richie was a stand-up guy. The world is a sadder place without him.

To paraphrase – the eminent Malian intellectual, writer and ethnologist Amadou Hampâté Bâ; he referred to the old African proverb at a UNESCO conference in 1960, when he said, “Un vieillard africain qui meurt, c’est une bibliothèque qui brûle.” – “In Africa, (In Carroll County,) when an old man dies, it’s a library burning.”

The saying is also used by American historians. I often remember it in the context of Southern Gothic literature in relationship to the sadness of a community when an elder passes away. Tennessee Williams described Southern Gothic as a style that captured “an intuition, of an underlying dreadfulness in modern experience.”

With the death of many of these individuals passes a certain Carroll County way-of-life that is going away forever. This concept is greeted with a certain dread by many in the community.

It has been said that too often we spend time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important. Be sure to spend some time with your friends, family and loved ones before it is too late.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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