Thomas (Oakie) Schlorf, 53, Tamaqua, was short on words as members of the South Ward Playground Association honored and recognized him for many years of volunteerism and committment at both the South Ward Fire Company and South Ward Playground.

The honor was announced during Wednesday's Sept. 11 service held at the playground.

Schlorf, a firefighter since 1974, served as South Ward Fire Company Fire Chief from 1984 to 2010 and Tamaqua's Fire Chief from 2001-2010.

"A very special thank you for all your hard work and endless dedication in helping to save the lives of our loved ones in our community without fear or pause," said event co-coordinator Shelly Bonser to Schlorf, who proudly stood alongside fellow firefighters during the service.

"We appreciate all of our volunters in the community," said Tamaqua Mayor Chris Morrison. "But it is always nice to recognize and show gratitude for a special individual for their years of service."

"Oakie was a chief when I came on," added Morrison. "He was always my 'go to' guy whenever I needed anything."

In addition, Schlorf, a resident of the South Ward, dedicated 26 years as a volunteer with the South Ward playground.

Schlorf said he took after his father, the late Charles Schlorf, who also served as chief. Guss Schlorf, Thomas's brother, also served as a captain and chief for the South Ward Fire Company. Carrying on the Schlorf tradition, both Schlorf's daughters (Tara Schlorf and Tonya Warner) currently serve as active firefighters with the company.

"I am proud to have learned from Oakie, and to keep up the high standards and traditions set by him and prior chiefs," said Tamaqua Fire Chief Tom Hartz.