This is from The Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, Virginia, Wednesday, October 17, 1962.
Luray Firemen, Community In Tributes To J. Everett Will
Luray – “I’m just a country boy, who loves all the firemen in Virginia,” is the way J. Everett Will, his voice choking with emotion, arose to thank all who honored him in a surprise “This Is Your Life” party, Sunday night.
Those gathered to honor him were firemen from all over Virginia: Warren Hicks, of Hampton, state secretary, Edward Braithwaite, of Harrisonburg, past president, William Ware, president of the Northern Virginia Firemen, Frank Stoutamyer, of Front Royal, past president, and H. H. Colvin, of Culpeper, a past president.
But firemen were not the only ones who welcomed this versatile citizen, a prominent lawyer, and a member of the Virginia Council of the State Bar. Judge Mark Woodward, of Luray, paid tribute to his excellency at the Bar, and the many offices he has held, and triumphs won.
Recalls First Case
Robert Lillard, who told of his membership In the Rotary and perfect attendance for 17 years, reminisced that he was on the jury in Mr. Will’s first case here-which he lost. When he saw Mr. Lillard the next day, he said, “I think I’m going to work at the tannery.”
Mayor Fred Walker told how Mr. Will put across the program of securing a new hospital for Page County. When he asked Mr. Will where he expected to get $200,000 for the hospital, he answered “From the people.” And he did.
Chairman and Toastmaster was Harry B. Dyche, who gave a resume of Mr. Will’s life history. Of his former chairmanship of the Republican party and his two times candidate for Congress from the Seventh District, Mr. Dyche said, “We are just as glad you lost for your town and county need your services.”
Born at Mt. Clifton
Mr. Will was bom in Mt, Clifton, Shenandoah County, taught school, then attended college in Washington, when he spent 17 years in the government. He passed the Virginia State Bar, in 1924, and came to Luray and opened an office. His first secretary was Mrs. E. P. Durrette.
Tlie program was planned and arranged by Mrs. Robert Lillard of the Firemen’s Auxiliary, and Miss Elizabeth Bailey, who assisted with collecting life items. Strange to say. all of the Auxiliary women kept the secret, and Mr. Will, at one time, did not plan to come.
His birthday being October 25, a huge cake was baked, and this was brought in at the close of the program, the crowd rising to sing, “Happy Birthday.”
Gifts included a small gavel from the Edith Rebecca Lodge. and a squirrel tail from the Squirrel Club.
Other Tributes Paid
There was also a large bouquet from leaders of the Virginia fire men’s auxiliary — “Mother” Travis, Helen Williams, and Margaret Tyler, of Alexandria; Marie Willlams, Strasburg and Ruth Nelson, New Church; and a scrapbook of pictures presented by Mrs. Miller Swartz, president of the Luray Auxiliary.
Others on the program with each representing an organization of which Mr. Will is associated were: Ralph Vaughan, Modern Woodmen; Miss Hazel Moyers, Edith Rebekah Lodge; Robert Lillard, Odd Fellows; Richard Sedwick, First National Bank of which Mr. Will is a director; C. P. Harrel, Luray Fire Co, who presented his photograph for the firemen’s Hall of Fame; the Rev. Louis Carson who spoke of Mr. Will’s Church activities; Floyd Eppard, Peoples Bank of Shenandoah; Mrs. Katie Hiden and Miss Cleta Rhodes, Northern Virginia auxiliary.
Mr. Will served 21 years as president of the Firemen in Luray and four years as president of State Firemen. He organized the Northern Virginia Firemen in 1947 with 13 companies and was its first president. He was instrumental in getting much beneficial legislation passed. Present with Mr. Will were his wife, the former Edna Dellinger, and one of his children. Douglas, now studying law in Washington. His physician. Dr. J. E. Wine, of Harrisonburg, was also present.
Of his interested firemen, Mr. Will said: “I think you’ve said it all. There will be no need for a minister when I die. Just put on my stone, “Here lies a county boy, who loved firemen.” This country boy, he said, used to go out in the night in the country, and see sparks flying, and thought of the need for firemen and fire companies.