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Local couple retires after 81 combined years of service

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GRATTEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. – After 81 combined years of service to the community, a husband-and-wife team are stepping down from the local fire department.

Ann and Art Ward will be leaving the department shortly, leaving behind decades of volunteer and full-time work that has earned the pair our Hero of the Week honors. But like any great duo, they said the time had simply come for them to pass the torch.

“At some point in time you’ve got to say you’ve had enough and it’s time to back down and let other people do it,” said Art. “I can’t say they’re more qualified but there coming up and learning new things and they can do it faster and easier so let them go ahead and take order.”

“Our bodies just aren’t the same as they were 30 -40 years ago,” said Ann “You know it’s tougher and for me I got so it was like ugh 2 o’clock in the morning and got to climb out of bed and it’s snowing and it was like I’m not sure I want to do that anymore.”

Ann, now 67, began at the department in 1978. She retires from the position of deputy chief. Art, 68, began a few years earlier in 1971. He retires from the position of safety officer at the department.

“It was something to help the community, help people that were having the problem,” said Art. “I’m not having the problem they are, maybe I can be there and help lift them up and do something that would be good.”

Things won’t slow down for the Ward’s though. Post-retirement, they’ll be taking their RV down to Florida to visit family, followed by a tour up the east coast to visit some historical sites. Likewise, both will retain their first responder certifications.

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