(Editor’s note: This is an autobiographical account of the life of Fay Ace, who passed away on Oct. 19. Considering how well-known Mr. Ace was within the community, his personal account, written four years ago appears here).


This is the life of Fay Harrison Ace. I was born Feb. 21, 1924, during a very bad snow storm, to Fred and Maude Ace. My father delivered me as the doctor never got there until a week later. I was the youngest of six children. I had three brothers, Vernon, Ray and Leigh and two sisters, Hilda and Doris. We lived on Ace Road, near South Auburn, Pa. Being the only house on the road, we had no electricity or phones. We heated with a wood stove and used kerosene lamps at night. We had a large spring with real cold water and it ran right through the milk house to cool our milk and food.

(Editor’s note: This is an autobiographical account of the life of Fay Ace, who passed away on Oct. 19. Considering how well-known Mr. Ace was within the community, his personal account, written four years ago appears here).


This is the life of Fay Harrison Ace. I was born Feb. 21, 1924, during a very bad snow storm, to Fred and Maude Ace. My father delivered me as the doctor never got there until a week later. I was the youngest of six children. I had three brothers, Vernon, Ray and Leigh and two sisters, Hilda and Doris. We lived on Ace Road, near South Auburn, Pa. Being the only house on the road, we had no electricity or phones. We heated with a wood stove and used kerosene lamps at night. We had a large spring with real cold water and it ran right through the milk house to cool our milk and food.


We attended Beach Grove School. All eight grades attended in one room. The school was about two miles from home, which we walked to. The next three grades were a little farther, about four miles, in Auburn Center. In 1940 the one-room school closed and buses began to run. I got to ride for one year. My final year of school I went to Laceyville, which was even farther, about six miles, and I had to provide my own transportation.


As a child, the Depression years were really tough. Those who had enough to eat and clothes to wear were lucky. I worked on our family farm and when time allowed I worked for a neighbor. The pay was 10 cents an hour and my noon meal.


I volunteered for the U.S. Navy and Army right after Pearl Harbor. But was rejected because of poor eyesight. So I volunteered to work at an airplane spotting post. When a plane flew over, we called in the size of the plane and the direction it was traveling. The post was manned 24 hours a day.


Then in 1943 I was drafted into the Army, with limited services. My first assignment was at the Valley Forge General Hospital, in Phoenixville, Pa., with the first patient arriving two days after I did. Being a new hospital, things were not very well organized. We were put out on the wards, with no training – basic training came two months later. I worked 12 hours a day on the mental ward, six days a week. I worked under continuous stress for about a year, to the point of almost being admitted myself. I then was transferred to Camp Ellis in Illinois where they gave us regular infantry training plus more medical training. I was then assigned to the 362nd Medical Laboratory. We did the lab work for the Field and Evacuation Hospitals. We left the states in September of 1944 for England.


Then we crossed the channel to France. We were assigned to the Ninth Army and traveled up through Belgium and Holland, into Germany where the most intense fighting of World War II was going on. They then pulled us back into Holland and we set up in a monastery, which was just across the river from the Battle of the Bulge. Moving up through Germany, we would pick out the best building available and set up. We were generally about a one to 15 miles behind the front lines.


Besides doing the general lab work, we averaged about four to five autopsies a day. Our unit received a citation for the work we did on the RH positive and negative factor. I was basically a jeep driver plus any other work that had to be done. I would make my rounds to the hospitals collecting the lab work. One town we moved into, we set up in a government building that had records of all those with Jewish blood and records of the young females who went to a camp where they were used for breeding purposes. It was also near a concentration camp that we were in on. Those scenes are in your memories forever.


One last move was into Helmstead, Germany. I was in an advanced detachment and we were cut off from our troops for three days. After the Germans’ surrendered we were soon put on orders to be flown to the Pacific. Those orders were canceled and we eventually were placed on a ship in Masey, France. Three days later the Japanese surrendered. Three days later they announced our destination was Boston, Mass. They gave us 45 days of rehab at home. Then we reconvened in Alabama where they dissolved the unit and I was sent to Long Island where I spent the next three months. Then onto the Canandaigua Veterans Hospital. I was discharged in January 1946.


I spent the next four years working at different jobs, farming, driving truck and running a gas station. I then contracted rheumatic fever and was laid up for awhile.


In 1950 I got married to and moved to Nunda. There I worked in a small machine shop for nine years. Then I got a job at General Railway Signal Corp. in Rochester. I started as a forklift operator and worked my way up to a machine job in the milling department. In 1978 I developed some heart problems and they transferred me to quality control where I continued to work until retirement in 1986.


I have had 12 surgeries including two open-heart surgeries. One in 1982 and one in 1997.


I married Dorcas Foust in 1950. She had two children by a previous marriage, who I raised as my own. Nancy lives in Mt. Morris, about eight miles from us. She has two sons and a daughter. Roger lives in Florida and has one son. We had two daughters of our own: Joanne, who lives in Houston, Texas, has a son and a daughter; and Joyce, who lives around the corner from us, had two daughters. Her oldest daughter passed away in 2003. Her youngest daughter lives in Dansville.


When I got out of the service I said I would never volunteer for anything again. But in 1954 I joined the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and have been active in both organizations for years. I was quartermaster in the VFW for three years and commander for four years. I have been in the firing squad for many years and am still active.


I joined the Nunda Fire Department in the same year. I took all the trainings and soon became a line officer, working my way up to assistant chief, never taking the chief position as I worked out of town 12 hours a day. We formed the Nunda Ambulance Corps under the fire department in the early 1960s. I continued training and was in the first group of EMTs for the corps. I was crew chief for six years then became foreman (captain) for the next six. When my medical problems came up I had to resign.


In 1986, after retiring, we decided to move from the village to West Sparta, about 10 miles from Nunda, where daughter Joyce has purchased land, in the country. We both put up new homes.


Soon after moving to West Sparta I was talked into joining the West Sparta Fire Department, where I have held offices and am still a lieutenant in the fire police. I am a member of the Livingston County Firemen’s Association, County Fire Chiefs Association, County Fire Police Association, Life Member of Western New York Firemen’s Association, Life Member of New York State Firemen’s Association. I am on several committees for the county association. I have received many award over the years. In 1983, I received the Firefighter of the Year award from the Nunda Fire Department. West Sparta has honored me in 1992, 1993, 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2004. In 2005 I was honored by Nunda and West Sparta fire departments for 50 years of service, along with Livingston County and New York State. I have been named “Pappy” in the Nunda Fire Department and am known by all in West Sparta as “Grandpa.” Even though I’m 83,1 can still relate to the younger generation and they want my opinion on many fire department details.


I have also been involved with the West Sparta Town Board. I attend most of the meetings and was chosen Senior Citizen of the Year in 2000. I have serve on the County Traffic Safety Board since 2001.


In summary, I would just like to say that the war days never leave you. But I am so thankful for the good memories I have, especially with my family, great friends and through my jobs and the fire service department.