Public servant was ‘a great ambassador,’ contributed to city, county in many ways
Louis E. Hunsinger Sr. 1934-2020
Tony Rampulla met Lou Hunsinger Sr. when he was 15.
Hunsinger and he were involved in the former Civil Air Patrol.
That was an incubation organization for those thinking about joining the Air Force.
He met Hunsinger while he was in high school. It was in the early 1970s.
The patrol members would get into aircraft, such as Piper Cubs and Cessnas, to prepare for incidents such as airline crashes and large wild fires.
“We trained a lot,” Rampulla said.
It was a group of adults and youngsters and Rampulla recalled the first time up in the air and being a bit nervous.
It was then that Hunsinger looked his way and with calmness in his voice said, “‘Don’t worry, we’ve got this,'” Rampulla said.
“I remember those words to this day,” Rampulla said. “He never pulled any punches.”
That gave the teenage Rampulla a sense of peace.
The two grew up as close friends. Rampulla signed up for the Air Force because of those early years in the air. Hunsinger went beyond his role as a leader and example for younger emergency management personnel, Rampulla said.
In various government meetings, Hunsigner would often put up two fingers, a code he developed for his friends.
He would say simultaneously: ‘“A factor of two whose problem it is and whose problem it ain’t.'” Rampulla said.
“He would smirk, raise two fingers up, if he did not believe the words of the individual speaking or disagreed,” Rampulla said.
Many agreed that Hunsinger’s presence in the city and Lycoming County will be missed.
“Our world would be far better if there were more (of his kind) that made selfless service to others a priority in their lives,” said Timothy Shumbat, fire department officer, friend and paramedic.
Hunsinger did that every day of his adult life, he said.
“We we’re more than grateful to have his assistance to manage this overwhelming situation, which saw most government entities struggling,” Shumbat said.
Shumbat recalled how, in true Hunsinger fashion, during the devastating flood of January 1996, he walked into the township fire station during the height of the event and asked, “I know a little about disasters — can I help?”
After the flood, Hunsinger didn’t call it a day.
Instead, he assisted in the coordination of the cleanup and recovery, as well as assisting in the coordination of the community service workers clean up and recovery work in the township and surrounding area.
Having been experienced in handling the City EMA for more than 20 years, Hunsinger assisted the late Joseph Bertin, former emergency management director, in navigating all of the state and federal government paperwork, Shumbat said.
Hunsinger took on the role of assistant township emergency management director, a position he continued in for a number of years.
Hunsinger then could be found in the township’s command center assisting with management of the clean-up.
“He was faithful at responding to our company’s emergencies and events,” Shumbat said.
Hunsinger served on the township fire police after joining the company, responding to hundreds of calls to assist with traffic in city and township special events and emergencies. During these years, he was a fire police lieutenant.
Hunsinger frequently was seen greeting individuals at the township annual fish fries and craft fair, helping with the fundraising events at the carnival and acting as an ambassador for the fire company.
“He was always striking up a conversation with people,” Shumbat said.
“I’ll was always amazed at home many people he knew, using that to be a great ambassador for the fire company,” said Larry Dincher, the township’s fire company treasurer.
He joined the Old Lycoming Township Volunteer Fire Company on April 8, 1996.
He could be observed almost every day in the morning at the fire station, and getting involved in helping in the day to day work and operations. He was faithful, dedicated and committed at whatever he did. One does not have to look any further for evidence of his commitment and faithfulness than his service and accomplishments over several decades in the city of Williamsport EMA, and then his volunteering at Old Lycoming Township.
Hunsinger served as a trustee and help position of president of the company board of trustees for several years. Hunsinger served on numerous company committees among them: insurance, chairman because he was an insurance industry specialist in his career; building, banquet,
Hunsinger received the following recognition and awards: Ernest H. Shumbat Distinguished Service Award; Life Membership in 2011, which is awarded after 15 years of service and a vote of the membership and the Fire Police Award.
“He remained active responding during several illnesses,” Shumbat said. “His failing health and age did not keep him from responding to help.”
“I worked with Lou when I was with the streets and parks department from 1981 through 1996.” said John Grado, retired city engineer and director of community development.
He was the director of Emergency Management at the time, Grado said.
Lou always had the city at his ear, Grado said.
He devoted many hours at EMA headquarters on Reighard Avenue ensuring its preparedness for major events.
He served at the Community Arts Center as a greeter, starting in 1995, where he was very active with the “Skip Hunsinger Children’s Christmas Spectacular.
Hunsinger served in various local committees like the Little League Baseball Grand Slam Parade.
Hunsinger was a 73-year member of St. John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church, where he helped his brother, Skip when he started the Senior Citizen’s Lunch. He passed away a few days before Christmas.
In his later years, he would frequent City Hall and always have a kind word for everyone, Grado said.
“He’ll be missed,” Grado said.