By Jake Palmateer

Staff Writer

For nearly 52 years, Frank Slocum has volunteered with the Unadilla Fire Department.

On Tuesday, the 77-year-old was recognized for his service by the state Senate.

"It was quite a surprise," Slocum said from his Unadilla home Wednesday.

He was one of 26 volunteers from across the state who were awarded with the Senate's 2008 Volunteer of Valor award.

Stacey Howland, the department's secretary, nominated Slocum.

"Sometimes, the volunteers are under-appreciated," Howland said.

Nominating Slocum was an easy choice, she said.

"Where do you even begin?" Howland said when describing Slocum's accomplishments.

In his five decades of service, Slocum has been a firefighter, a second-assistant chief, captain of the EMS squad, treasurer, president, vice president and lieutenant. Slocum also represented Unadilla as vice president of the Otsego County Volunteer Firemen's Association. Last year, he was named Otsego County Firefighter of the Year.

He is currently captain of the department's fire police.

"He's still active with our fire department," Howland said.

Slocum was nominated for the award in part for his service during the June 2006 flood and its aftermath.

For three weeks, he worked at the cleanup site in Unadilla with a smile on his face, offering words of encouragement to those affected by the flooding, Howland said

"Frank was there through all the elements. You could see he was getting tired, but he was always there," she said.

Slocum downplayed his role in the department's handling of the flood response that year, crediting the success of the recovery operations to good organization.

"We had a good system," he said.

But Howland said Slocum is a modest person.

"An impressive half-century of service _ Frank is one of those success stories that we can proudly share with our community, sacrificing his time to help others in times of great need and is an example of excellence in our community," said Sen. James Seward in a media release.

Seward, of Milford, is chairman of the Senate Majority Task Force on Emergency Volunteer Services.

Slocum, who was joined in Albany by six members of his department, said he enjoyed the experience of seeing the Capitol.

"It was really a nice program. They gave us a nice framed certificate," Slocum said. "We had a nice luncheon."

Slocum, who worked for Bendix in Sidney for 41 years, said it is good for retirees to be active.

"I see so many people retire and they say, Oh gosh, what am I going to do,'" Slocum said.

Slocum said volunteering keeps him busy and engaged with the community, and he's always meeting new people.

"I'm down (at the fire department) almost every day," Slocum said. "It's a good time."

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