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The Gustine Fire Department paid tribute to Alvin Amaral and the years he served the community as a volunteer firefighter.

On Aug. 17, hundreds gathered in the Henry Miller Park to share their love and respect for the late Alvin Amaral. Constant comments and laughter were heard. The fragrance of the Wolfsen barbecue was everywhere.

Everyone stopped to view the display table that told of his life and service. Included were his McDonald box, his family banners – loving husband, loving brother, loving dad and loving voodoo (grandpa in Portuguese) - his photograph, his Merced County Fire Department certificate, his Rotary Paul Harris Fellow award, the orange Kennedy Meadows baseball cap as well as his 49er one, his tool kit, his silver trumpet and Gustine City Band record.

Alvin’s son, Allen, began the program by saying “Wow – the amount of people here today show how my dad touched people in Gustine. Truly overwhelming.”

Alvin was a fisherman. He took his son, Allen, as a youngster to cast for fly fishing in the stream at Kennedy Meadows.  Then, as a grandpa, he took three grandkids (3, 5 and 7 years of age) to learn to fly fish for trout.  Another speaker told of the first time he went fishing with Alvin.  “We caught so many trout we couldn’t close the lid of the ice box”.”

Alvin was familiar to everyone. I first met Alvin when my wife and I returned to our hometown of Newman and I joined the Newman Rotary Club. We often visited the Gustine club and I got to know Alvin. What a great Rotarian and community servant. He once attended a West Coast Rotary meeting and got to say “hello” to the International President.  Alvin took time to brag on the international projects of the Gustine club.  The next morning Alvin was standing with a bunch of Rotarians when the International President walked by. He called out: “Hi, Alvin.  How’s everything in Gustine?”

Alvin was a facilitator. For 25 years he was “Mr. Maintenance” for Gustine schools.  With his tool box, he could help anyone who needed assistance.

Alvin was a fantastic musician. He learned to play the trumpet in grade school with Mr. Ceph Jamero. At Gustine high, he played in the concert band, the marching band, the pep band and the band ensemble. He even got to play in Jamero’s high school dance band. At age 16, he began playing with the Gustine City Band at festas and fiestas.

Alvin was a fireman. Gustine Fire Chief, Pat Borrreli. said that Alvin was one who was always ready for a fire call.  He then read the Fireman’s Prayer.   It opens with: “When I am called to duty God whenever flames may rage. Give me the strength to save some life what ever be its age. And if according to your will I have to lose my life. Please bless with Your protecting hand my children and my wife.”

The 2nd Assistant Chief, Mike Martin, then rang the fireman’s bell – the symbolic three times three – which meant the fireman’s life had ended.

I close this column honoring Alvin Amaral with these final lines in Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Samoan Family Prayer: “Give us the strength to encounter that which is to come – that we may be brave imperil – constant in tribulation – temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune  even down to death – loyal and loving to one another.”

And you were, Alvin!    Vaya con Dios – may you go with God. God Bless You.