Warde Hershberger

Hometown: Woodburn/Hubbard

Why he is an Amazing Neighbor:
Whether he’s flipping July-4 flapjacks for Kiwanis, getting resources to a food bank or habitat for humanity or volunteering as a firefighter for 61 years, Warde's support for the community never falters.


Taking care of the community for decades

When a mid-July blaze threatened a couple of east Woodburn businesses, local firefighters answered the call quickly, and 84-year-old Warde Hershberger was among them, driving an essential firefighting apparatus to the scene.

But that wasn’t an unusual sight. Hershberger has been a local firefighting volunteer for 61 years. Within that six-decade footprint, he’s also helped many community-supporting entities in the area.

“Yes, when the Raven was on fire the other day, he was there,” said Warde’s daughter Mary Masignila. “We don’t let him go into the building fires anymore, but he’s still volunteering.”

That’s just a snapshot of Warde’s vast community support. The former well-known auto dealer has helped with food banks, locally and regionally, Habitat for Humanity, the Silverton Hospital Foundation, and with his wife, Patricia, he has been very active in the Zion Mennonite Church in Hubbard.

Warde, a member of Woodburn Kiwanis, was even spotted flipping fourth-of-July flapjacks this year at the community breakfast.

“They started that (community) breakfast when I was a kid, and it was very popular,” he said, noting that its continuation was once in jeopardy. “Kiwanis did a good thing by taking that over.”

While Warde sold his dealership 20 years ago, and 10 years ago, he moved into the county, his volunteer work hasn’t slowed down one iota.

“This (country abode) was built with the idea that when grandpa and grandma get older, they could take care of us,” Warde jested. “But when we moved in here, we found out that we were actually shuttle drivers for (very active) grandkids.”

More reflectively, he reasoned, “Community is very important. When you are in business in a community, you support that community because it is supporting you.”

Warde is a living example of that, and his service in firefighting, which began on April 1, 1962, illustrates it clearly. WFD Chief Joe Budge said the six-decade volunteer performs support duties, including operating the air unit that replaces breathing air cylinders for firefighters working inside structure fires and water tenders that bring water to rural areas not served by hydrants.

“When a significant emergency occurs, Warde can be counted on to respond to the district main fire station any time of the day, night or weekend to help coordinate the volunteer firefighter response depending on the needs of the incident,” Budge said.

Warde also serves on the district’s operations committee, representing the 25 district volunteer firefighters, and his extensive institutional knowledge of the fire district brings a valuable perspective to the management group.

“He has a way of offering a suggestion through a story or comment from his experiences as a volunteer firefighter and long-time local business owner that cause those in leadership positions to pause and consider,” Budge said. “His timely and poignant inputs lead to better operational decisions.

“Warde’s volunteer service that spans more than six decades has helped countless Woodburn area residents that are often experiencing one of worst days of their lives,” the fire chief added. “The fire district and the Woodburn community owe a huge debt of gratitude for his past and continued dedication and faithful service.”

From Warde’s perspective, he wouldn’t give the community anything less.