Watchung Rescue Squad
 
 
 

The Watchung Rescue Squad (WRS) will provide the Borough of Watchung and surrounding communities with prompt and skilled basic life support and rescue, free of charge. The WRS will be recognized for providing high quality services to the communities through well-trained, dedicated volunteers. The WRS will conduct its business to assure fiscal responsibility through sound business management.The WRS takes pride in its commitment to service, working as a team to provide care to those in need.

WRS Elected Officers 2017

Wednesday, January 4, 2017   In late 2016, the Rescue Squad membership elected our officers for the upcoming year. The new and returning officers assumed office on January 1, 2017. They are:Operations Officers:

  • Captain: Ali Diecke
  • 1st Lieutenant: Michael Vala
  • 2nd Lieutenant: Vinay Keelara
  • Operations Sergeant: Charles Pivnichny
  • Administrative Sergeant: Roberto Martinez
Administrative Officers:


  • President: Don Monetti
  • Vice President: Denise Wilson
  • Treasurer: Robert Winston
  • Recording Secretary: Liana Sa
  • Administrative Secretary: Sarah Haddican
Congratulations to all our officers and thank you to those that served in 2016!

   


 

26th Annual Tree of Lights

Friday, December 9, 2016  On Saturday, December 3rd, 2016, members of the Watchung Rescue Squad lit the tree in the village green during the annual Tree of Lights Festival.The tree was dedicated to three long time members of the Watchung Rescue Squad who passed away in 2016:  Steve Gussis, honored by Squad Captain Alison Diecke; Walter Niegisch, honored by his daughter Karen Niegisch Grayboyes, and Claire Ohl, honored by Squad Treasurer Robert Winston. 

In addition to the honorees, the crowd was treated to holiday music from Babygrand Entertainment as well as a live performance from the Valley View Middle School Chorus class under the direction of Music Teacher Gen Webber.


The ceremony concluded with thankful remarks from Mayor Steven Pote, who took the time to appreciate all the volunteers in Watchung and the service to the community.  Mayor Pote then led the countdown to the 26th lighting of the tree.  Once lit, the crowd was treated to a wonderful fireworks display courtesy of Garden State Fireworks. 

Many Watchung families took part in the celebration by placing a light on our tree in remembrance or in honor of family, friends, and others.  The names of honorees will be posted on the illuminated display on the Village Green through January.


Lights are still available to anyone who wishes: To place a light on the tree, please complete the Dedication Order Form available at Watchung Borough Hall and mail it along with your tax-deductible donation of $50.00 per light to Watchung Rescue Squad, 10 Stirling Road, Watchung, NJ 07069.


To learn more about the squad or membership information, please explore our website!

   


 

WRS Thanks Tree of Lights Supporters

Sunday, December 4, 2016  The Watchung Rescue Squad would like to thank everyone who helped make our 26th Annual Tree of Lights a resounding success:

Walt Schmiede, Lane Solon, Precision Tree Service, and all the Squad members who contributed to the set-up and ceremony.

The Watchung Fire Department, Watchung Police Department & PBA, the Department of Public Works, Watchung OEM, and Scott's Green Landscaping for their support throughout the event.

Mayor Steve Pote, the Watchung Borough Council, and Watchung Troop 32 for their participation in the dedication and lighting ceremony.

Ms. Gen Webber and the Valley View Middle School Chorus and Chris Waryn and Babygrand Entertainment for music during the event.

Buffalo Wild Wings, Stop & Shop, and Rolf’s for providing food and refreshments.

Garden State Fireworks for a spectacular fireworks show.

The Echoes-Sentinel for their coverage of the event and many photographs, David Steinberg for creating our flyer, and everyone who shared or posted information about the event.

And finally our Watchung Borough residents and local businesses for their generous donations and continued support! Thank you all and have a safe and happy holiday season! 



   


 

26th Annual Tree of Lights

Saturday, December 3, 2016   The Watchung Rescue Squad's 26th Annual Tree of Lights will take place on Saturday, December 3rd at 5:30 pm on the Village Green.

The Tree of Lights was created in the spirit of honoring and remembering our loved ones during the holiday season. You can be part of the celebration by placing a red light on our tree in honor of or white in remembrance of a person, family, friends and others.

For more information about the event and dedication, please visit our Tree of Lights page

   


 

Tree of Lights Set-Up 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016  On Saturday, Nov. 19th, members of the Watchung Rescue Squad strung up the lights on the tree on the Village Green in preparation for our annual tree lighting ceremony.

The Tree of Lights was created in the spirit of honoring and remembering our loved ones during the holiday season.

This year’s Tree of Lights is dedicated to three long time members of the Watchung Rescue Squad who passed away in 2016, and who dedicated their lives to serving their country, their community, and the Watchung Rescue Squad: Steve Gussis, Walter Niegisch, and Claire Ohl.

Thank you to Walt Schmiede, Lane Solon and all the Squad members who came out to help!



   


 

Tree of Lights Set-Up

Wednesday, November 9, 2016  Come meet the dedicated volunteers that make the magic happen. Join the Watchung Rescue Squad on Saturday, November 19 at 9am as they decorate the tree and prepare the green for the big ceremony. Coffee, hot cocoa and light snacks will be provided. You can even help string the lights! Although not required!

   


 

WRS Recognizes Life Member

Sunday, October 9, 2016  In February 2001, longtime Watchung resident Don Monetti witnessed the Rescue Squad working on an patient who had sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident. Soon after, Don started as a volunteer EMT. In September 2016, we recognized Don for his 15 years of service and welcomed him to his new status as "Life Member" of the WRS. Congratulations Don and thank you for all you do for WRS and the Borough of Watchung!!

   


 

WRS Recognizes Exempt Member

Saturday, September 17, 2016   Congratulations to our 1st Lieutenant, Charles Pivnichny, for achieving Exempt member status. We appreciate your seven years of dedicated service to the Watchung Rescue Squad!

   


 

Walter Niegisch

Saturday, June 4, 2016  Members of the Watchung Rescue Squad will be attending a celebration of life service to honor Walter D. Niegisch at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, at Faith Lutheran Church, 524 South St. in New Providence. Walter was a Distinguished Life Member of our organization and an inspiration to those whom he encountered. We honor his service to the Borough of Watchung and the Watchung Rescue Squad.

Walter's Obituary: 

Research scientist at Union Carbide and patent holder in mass spectrometry; one of the original N.J. EMTs and veteran officer of Watchung Rescue Squad who led the unit during period of innovation.

On Jan. 6, 2016, Walter D. Niegisch lost a courageous battle with a debilitating neurological illness. Born June 20, 1929, in Atlantic City, N.J., Walt leaves behind a legacy of devotion to family and community. The son of German immigrants, he grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attended Columbia University, earning an undergraduate degree from the School of Engineering and Applied Science followed by a graduate degree in physical chemistry from the Stevens Institute of Technology. Walt served in the U.S. Army for two years from 1954 to 1956, where his knowledge as a scientist was instrumental in the development of food preservation. After discharge, he worked for Union Carbide for more than 42 years, retiring in 1994 as senior research scientist. During his tenure at Union Carbide, Walt authored numerous scientific papers in the field of physical chemistry and had many patents to his name as a pioneer in the use of mass spectrometry.

Outside of his profession, his volunteer work with scouting, the Watchung Rescue Squad, and his church was particularly rewarding for him. He was an active member of the Watchung Rescue Squad for 33 years, joining in 1977. He served in many capacities on the board, including being elected for three terms as president. Walt was one of the first volunteer responders in New Jersey to earn his EMT certification. He was also a pioneer in the development of an extrication team for the squad. For his dedication to the Watchung Rescue Squad, Walt received the Distinguished Member Award in 1994, was a Distinguished Life Member, and was honored by the state of New Jersey as Volunteer of the Year in 2007.

His devotion to the community was not limited to membership in the Watchung Rescue Squad. For 10 years, he was an active leader in the Boy Scouts. As a longtime member of Faith Lutheran Church, he put his building and construction knowledge to good use working for Habitat for Humanity and in Appalachia building facilities for those in need. Walt's talents extended to his hobbies, including photography and tennis. As an avid photographer, he once won a New York Times photography contest.

He leaves behind his devoted wife of 60 years, Eleanor; son, Robert W. Niegisch and his wife, Carol; daughter, Karen Graboyes and her husband, Fred, and grandchildren, Kate, Megan, Luke, and Michael.

He will be missed for his tenacious strength of character, perseverance, and dedication to his family, friends, and neighbors. Donations may be made in his honor to the Watchung Rescue Squad.

Published in Star-Ledger on Jan. 17, 2016



   


 

Stephen Gussis

Thursday, May 26, 2016  Watchung Rescue Squad was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of member Stephen Gussis on Thursday, May 26th. Steve was a member of the Squad for 24 years, actively riding the ambulance for many of those years and impressing the membership with his dedicated service, earning the Squad's Outstanding Service Award.  He will be greatly missed.


Services will be held at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Westfield (250 Gallows Hill Road) on Tuesday, May 31st from 10 to 11 am, followed by an 11 am funeral service.

Stephen's Obituary:

Stephen G. Gussis, 92, was born in New Brunswick together with his twin  brother, Arthur in 1923, died on May 26, 2016. After graduating from New Brunswick High School in 1942, he enrolled in the U.S. Air Corps in 1943 during World War II. He served as a Staff Sergeant with the 20th Air Force on the island of Guam working on B29 Bomber engines until the war’s end. Returning to New Brunswick, he enrolled in Middlesex County Vocational School to obtain his barbering license, following in his father’s footsteps. He ran the Campus Barber Shop adjacent to the Rutgers campus for many years.

His interests included travel, golf, softball and bowling, during which activity he met his wife, Violet who predeceased him in 2005.

He attended the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Westfield and supported the Church Philoptochos Society with two Memorial Scholarships, one in memory of his wife, Violet. Steve also served as the Secretary of the local chapter of AHEPA. Living all his married life in Watchung, he was a volunteer EMT with the Watchung First Aid Squad for 24 years for which he was awarded it’s Outstanding Service Award.

Steve was preceded in death by his wife, Violet; his sister, Katherine Achaves; his brothers, Arthur and Kostas and his step-children, Gordon Muffett and Doris Esposito.

He is survived by his brother, Christopher of Massachusetts, his step daughter, Bonnie Muffett of Wisconsin, many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grand nephews, step grandchildren and step great grandchildren. He is also survived by his dedicated aide and “buddy”, Tomasz.

A visitation will be held on Tuesday, May 31st  from 10 to 11 am at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 250 Gallows Hill Road, Westfield followed by an 11 am funeral service. Entombment will be at Clover Leaf Memorial Park, Woodbridge.

Memorial donations may be made to the Stephen & Violet Gussis Scholarship Fund, c/o the Philoptochos Society of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 250 Gallows Hill Road, Westfield, NJ 07090 or to the Watchung Rescue Squad, 10 Stirling Avenue, Watchung, NJ 07069.




   


 
 
 

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