Parade of firetrucks honors longtime volunteer with end-stage pancreatic cancer

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Bill Klinedinst has always told his children that today would be a good day — and that it's always a good day, daughter Wendy Parson recalled.

Sunday afternoon, despite a sprinkle of rain mixed with tears, was no different. 

About a dozen family members and neighbors gathered on the front lawn of Klinedinst's house in Manchester Township. It was a bittersweet, emotional — yet happy — celebration.

Klinedinst, a longtime firefighter and church volunteer, was diagnosed with end-stage pancreatic cancer less than a month ago.

Bill Klinedinst's daughter, Julie, embraces with a neighbor after a firetruck parade on Sunday, April 10. Tina Locurto photo.

In a gathering to celebrate Klinedinst and all he did for the community, members of area fire companies also showed their appreciation — with a parade of about a dozen firetrucks with blaring sirens and friendly faces waving to a blanket-wrapped Klinedinst as he sat on his porch with his wife, Shirley.

"It was nice to know that he could see how much he's been appreciated for everything that he has done," said daughter Julie Klinedinst. "And knowing that I'm soon going to have to say goodbye — it's just emotional."

Bill Klinedinst served as a volunteer firefighter with Emigsville Fire Co. and drove the Super Tanker truck — which made a special appearance during the parade. 

Julie Klinedinst waves to firefighters during a parade to honor her father, Bill. Bille Klinedinst was diagnosed with end stage pancreatic cancer less than one month ago. Tina Locurto photo.

When he wasn't working, Bill Klinedinst was at the fire hall hanging out, said son Joel Klinedinst.

The older Klinedinst served the fire company for more than 60 years. But his community impact didn't stop there.

Bill Klinedinst is also a member of Hayshire United Church of Christ and volunteered "behind the scenes," Parson said.  

Bill Klinedinst, 87, of Manchester Township, was diagnosed with end stage pancreatic cancer less than one month ago. Tina Locurto photo.

"If the grass needed to be cut, if things needed to be done, he was doing it," she added.

He also maintained a walking path in his neighborhood for years in order to help children have access to a safe path for walking to the nearby elementary school.

As a result, Manchester Township erected a sign two years ago and declared the trail "Bill Klinedinst Way."

A walking trail was named after Manchester Township resident Bill Klinedinst after he had maintained the path for school-grade children for years. Tina Locurto photo.

It wasn't just members of the Klinedinst family who showed up Sunday afternoon. Many neighbors were there, including Sandy Dickensheets, who has lived next to the Klinedinsts for over 50 years.

Dickensheets held an umbrella and couldn't help the tears as several firetrucks passed through. 

"They're all like family to us," Dickensheets said, adding that she came out because she has much love for Bill and Shirley and their children.

After the parade, Julie Klinedinst embraced family and neighbors alike.

"We all lose our parents, we do. It hurts for each and every one of us," Julie Klinedinst said. "That's just my emotions today. Happy, sad and grateful."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto. 

Bill Klinedinst and his wife, Shirley, sit on the front porch of their Manchester township home. Bill Klinedinst was diagnosed with end stage pancreatic cancer less than one month ago. Tina Locurto photo.