New Penn Yan fire chief has already been a hero

Loujane Johns

On Nov. 11, 1978 Rick Retorick, then 14 years old, was delivering newspapers on his route around the village.

One of his regular 87 customers was Mrs, Elizabeth Rice of 105 Hutton St. in Penn Yan. Every day he opened her door and hand delivered her copy.  The family had requested this extra service as a means to check on her welfare.

But this day was different. Retorick hollered, but got no response. Usually, she answered, “I’m here, just leave it.”  

First he saw her walker, then he saw the woman unconscious on the floor.  He recalls the situation as a little frightening at his age.

He quickly went next door and summoned another neighbor, Mrs. Buchanan, who called police and other neighbors.

The elderly woman had an “insulin attack,”  rendering her unconscious. Back in those days, a doctor was summoned and came right to her house.

Retorick, at that time was a junior fireman with the Penn Yan Department. He received praise and a commendation from the VFW and state officials for his quick thinking.

Some time later, Retorick learned Mrs. Rice was the mother of Clint Rice, a past Penn Yan Chief and long-time member of the department.

“It could have been anybody.  I just did it,” he says.  To this day, he remembers the event very well.  So does his sister, Krisann Taylor of Lynchburg, Va., who contacted The Chronicle-Express to share this story.

“I hope Penn Yan realizes what a dedicated individual they have as their new fire chief.  Rick has expressed great respect for those who have served before him, and he takes his new responsibility very seriously,” states Taylor.

Rick’s reaction to his sister’s prideful communication: “Oh my goodness she saved that article and contacted you? I need to have a talk with her!”