May 13, 2009 The smaller the community, the bigger the heroes. This is true in the case of Almont firefighter Bernie White, a role model, courageous community servant and team player whose mark on the department, the county and the state won't soon be forgotten.
Bernie died unexpectedly on Tuesday. She leaves behind a community of friends, a network of colleagues and a legacy of service and source of pride.
It was her sense of adventure and call for service that propelled Bernie to achieve state certification as an Emergency Medical Technician, a heroic job that helped pave the way to her years as a volunteer firefighter. No ordinary firefighter at that.
Bernie was the longest running female firefighter in Lapeer County, a trailblazer in a typically male-dominated field. When she joined the department two decades ago, women weren't part of the group.
Today, departments across the county and state include females on their rosters.
Bernie didn't toot her own horn, however, she was more interested in being a contributing member of the brother- and sisterhood of firefighters. Concerned for everyone's safety, she headed up training sessions that were above and beyond what's included in the state's firefighter's curriculum, and was a state instructor of hazardous materials classes at the Lapeer Firefighters Training Center.
Her contributions to the community and to the fire department that she served and loved make Bernie White an outstanding testament to her gender. Above all, Bernie White's legacy proves that the smallest communities do indeed produce the biggest heroes. She was greatly appreciated and will be sorely missed.