Although Millville’s newest monument was donated in one man’s name, the granite stone honors all past firefighters.
The Santa Barbara family donated a new firefighter memorial to Millville Volunteer Fire Company, honoring their late husband and father, Paul J. Santa Barbara III. He served MVFC as a member and safety officer until his 2012 death at the age of 63.
Every volunteer firefighter who serves Millville will be forever memorialized at the fire station.
“This … will provide a lasting memorial for all the men and women who have served Millville Volunteer Fire Company in the past, as well as today and in the future,” said Bob Powell, MVFC’s public information officer.
“I wanted to make a donation to the fire company, and I wanted it to be something, not just go to the general fund,” Denise Santa Barbara said. MVFC never had a memorial, so this was a perfect fit. “They give a lot of time. That’s a commitment for them, especially in today’s busy world.”
Positioned near the flagpole, the high-quality black granite comes from China, and the polished stone was engraved, with an American flag painted on top.
“Many [passers-by] will realize this stands for people who love their community and … whose sole desire is to protect their community,” said the Rev. Bob Hudson.
In New Castle County, Paul Santa Barbara III was a life member of Holloway Terrace and Christiana Volunteer Fire Departments.
MVFC President Clarke Droney remembers when Santa Barbara first applied to join the company. When Droney called north to get a recommendation, this is what he heard:
“’Every day that Paul Santa Barbara came to work … for over 28 years, every time he walked in that firehouse, he gave 110 percent,’” Droney was told.
He said Santa Barbara gave no less to Millville.
“Paul’s whole life revolved around the fire house,” Denise Santa Barbara said. “He loved firefighting. And he really loved driving the apparatus.
“I just wanted to give back to Millville for all that they have given me,” from support when her husband was ill to a full firefighter’s funeral when the time came.
“You thank us, but we wanna thank you for sharing him with us,” Hudson said. “If we would follow in his footsteps [of service and dedication] it would make us better firefighters.”
At his mother’s side, Santa Barbara recalled firefighting for years alongside his dad. That was their tradition, and part of the reason he has taken a break from fire service.
“It’s sad because he should be here. It hurts,” said the youngest Santa Barbara. “It was a terrible disease. We do the best we can to move on. [But] I don’t think there’s a fire department that wouldn’t honor him.”
“We’re so happy he has a permanent place here. He loved this place,” said Paul Santa Barbara III’s daughter, Heather Santa Barbara, who brought her own children to the dedication.
“Paul will never be forgotten. He will always be near and dear to our hearts,” Powell said.