By Sterling McGinn

Newberry’s Fourth of July parade will honor local superheroes, and the Kiwanis Club has picked one Newberry superhero to serve as grand marshal.

Peter Rahilly, a first responder and U.S. Army Veteran, is known by almost everyone in town.

If he is not repairing a local automobile, chances are he is giving someone a hand or visiting a friend or an elderly member of his church.

He doesn’t do it for recognition. Acts of service are actually his only hobby.

“Helping people, that is pretty much it,” Rahilly said when asked what he does for fun.

Rahilly, a Newberry native, has lived in the area pretty much all his life with the exception of his military service in the U. S. Army.

He is the son of the late Peter D. and Phyliss (Villemure) Rahilly.

He still works fulltime at Chuck Renze Ford of Newberry, a business originally owned by his grandfather, Joseph P. Rahilly in 1950.

He holds the record as the longest serving firefighter in Newberry. Rahilly has been a member of the Newberry Fire Department for 48 consecutive years—longer than anyone has served since the department was founded in 1886.

He was also a member of the Luce County EMS for more than 40 years, though he’s now retired from that duty.

Rahilly said he wanted to join the fire department and EMS to—you guessed it—help people and the community.

A lot has changed during his time as a first responder, particularly with the use of pagers.

“When I first joined, we went by the whistle,” he said. “You had to live in the village. The people that lived by the ice rink sometimes didn’t hear the whistle. It depended on the wind direction. The wives would make sure to call around to the others.”

In his spare time, Rahilly is active in the local ham radio club and is a member of St. Gregory’s Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus.

Rahilly says he loves small-town life and wouldn’t have it any other way. “I like the small-town atmosphere—you know just about everybody,” he said.