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Tribute to Devotion: Daughter requests Kentville street be named in memory of Harmon Illsley

The late Harmon Illsley, the longest-serving chief of the Kentville Fire Department.
The late Harmon Illsley, the longest-serving chief of the Kentville Fire Department. - Contributed

Longest-serving Kentville fire chief held position for more than two decades

KENTVILLE, N.S. —

Harmon Illsley was a man who made a commitment to volunteering and helping the community his life.

Illsley was the longest serving chief in the history of the Kentville Fire Department, with more than 20 years in the position. He devoted more than 40 years of his life to the fire service. Illsley passed away in April 2018 at the age of 89.

His daughter, Kellie Illsley-Best, said her father took a commitment to volunteering to a new level. His whole life revolved around the fire service and the Kentville Fire Department.

Illsley-Best is the youngest of six children and said her father was deeply involved during the time she was still living at home. She is incredibly proud that her father was so devoted.

“I think he thought that it was his full-time job,” Illsley-Best said.

He was proud when he was elected deputy chief, but not as proud as his family. Once he became chief, “the smile never came off his face.”

Although she now lives in Weston, Illsley-Best works in Kentville. On a recent drive past KCA School, she noticed that the street running between the school and the Credit Union Rec Complex is named after the late Gary Pearl, a former mayor. This gave her the idea of trying to get a street named in memory of her father.

Illsley-Best wrote a letter to Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow suggesting that having a street or something else in the town named in her father’s memory would be a fitting tribute.

Illsley-Best believes her father’s favourite aspect of firefighting was helping others through volunteering. She recalls many occasions when they planned to go somewhere when the fire alarm sounded. He would drop everything and turn around.

“He would work his full-time job around the fire department because he wanted to fundraise and improve the equipment for the fire department,” Illsley-Best said.

She recalls that he would take three or four days off work leading up to the department’s annual fundraising auction just to collect donations.

The sheer number of people who knew him was somewhat overwhelming to her. She was in awe of the number of people he knew, mostly through his involvement with the fire service.

Illsley-Best said it was extremely difficult for her father to finally retire from the firefighting. He wanted to be able to give it his all. However, he stayed on with the Maritime Fire Chiefs Association. He was still attending the annual convention as recently as a few years ago and served on a number of the association’s committees well into his 80’s.

Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow said she and town council received the request from Illsley-Best and agreed to consider it in the spirit of the town’s current policy.

“There are no new streets on the horizon and there are no plans to rename anything,” Snow said in a May 22 email. “There is also a desire to coordinate with the Kentville Volunteer Fire Department to determine if there is something we can do together.”

STREET NAMING POLICY

Under the Town of Kentville’s current Policy Statement G67, Recognition of Community Contributions, there is a section called “Influential and Outstanding Citizens, Organizations and Teams”.

Under this section, there are provisions for street naming; naming of municipal lands, facilities and elements, public recognition, awards dinner and ceremony and the key to the town.

Under the heading Street Naming, it points out that the Municipal Government Act states that council may, by policy, name or rename any street or private road.

Submissions of street names proposed by developers will be considered by council. Names proposed by the public will be considered when requested by council.

Submissions are to be accompanied by the rationale for the proposal and the names of all new streets will be ratified at a regular council meeting. Street type definitions are also included for reference with regard to the naming of new streets.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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