Chaplain Heber Van Gilder, left, was recently honored by Deputy Fire Chief Steve Smith and the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety district for Van Gilder's years of work with the district.
Photo by Jeff Switzer/Woodinville Weekly.
by Jeff Switzer
A chaplain with the fire district for more than seven years, Heber Van Gilder is moving on to Stanwood and bidding farewell to the Woodinville fire department and the community.
The department recognized Van Gilder's accomplishments and thanked him for his work at the Board of Commissioners meeting July 1, presenting Van Gilder with a framed photo of him with other chaplains in the department and a certificate of appreciation.
"He is probably one of the more compassionate individuals I've ever met," said Chief Jim Davis, "being able to help a person through the process of (a traumatic experience) and establishing a friendship with that person. He's very, very good and helps put things in perspective."
A 52-year veteran of the ministry, Van Gilder thanked the district and chaplain coordinator Deputy Fire Chief Steve Smith for contributing to the success of the program.
"The fire department is a community operation, and the fire commissioners have a tremendous responsibility to teamwork and the backing of this chief," Van Gilder told the board and the audience.
"In my 45 years of work in fire and police, I have never worked with a more gracious, intelligent, honest, and caring chief in all my life. I'm honored to be a part of this department, and consider you as a friend," he said to Davis.
The chaplains program began in 1983. Woodinville and Redmond fire departments share six chaplains for religious support and stress debriefing for victims and witnesses involved in traumatic emergencies.
Davis said Van Gilder always emphasizes the value of life and helps others keep that in perspective, and those qualities, along with his years of dedication, make Van Gilder highly respected in the fire service and throughout King County.
"He truly leads by example, and those who have met him have faith in him as a minister and also a friend," Davis said. "His presence here has really held the chaplains program together."