CRETE, NEB. - A southeast Nebraska volunteer fire department held a special ceremony for a special member of their history.

Since 1974, Terry Petracek has been a member of the Crete Volunteer Fire Department, holding numerous titles. On Sunday, they held a 50 year anniversary open house, in his honor.

“He’s always been a very proud member of this department and always wanted us to operate at a high standard.”

Fire Chief Tod Allen has been on the force since the year 2000 - half as along as Terry has. He noted the number of advances and ideas Petracek has brought on in his time with the department, noting his ability to speak his mind.

“50 years - Kind of a jaunt,” Petracek said. “It’s been both good and bad. I’ve seen the worst, I’ve seen the best.”

Petracek has spent time as a Rescue Lieutenant, Rescue Captain, Treasurer. And most recently President. He’s the fourth member of the department to reach 50 years. The Crete community packed the fire department to the brim to celebrate the accomplishment.

“That shows what Terry’s meant to this town,” Allen said. “He’s lived here his whole life, was the postmaster for awhile, and he’s affected a lot of people. I don’t know how many he worked on medically, but he’s affected a lot of people.”

Recently, Petracek was diagnosed with lung cancer.

It started out as a case of pneumonia, but turned out to be more. Allen said the community and department have come together to support him, but Terry’s work ethic has not changed.

“He came to us at an officer meeting, said ‘hey, I got this thing going on, but I’m going to try to make calls,” Allen said. “We were like ‘No, Terry, you get better, take care of yourself’.. He was upset he wasn’t going to be making calls.”