NEWLAND — Recently retired North Carolina Forest Ranger Joe Shoupe was honored at the Avery County Fire Association’s regular meeting on Thursday, April 1.
Shoupe served as the county ranger for the local NC Forest Service outpost in Avery County for the past 30 years. During his time with the service, Shoupe worked closely with the county’s fire departments by providing assistance and responding to calls in moments of emergency.
For his selfless dedication to the county for the past three decades, Fire Association President Scott Stansberry presented a plaque to Shoupe and shared some thoughts on what he has meant to the fire service and himself over the years.
“I consider him a friend, and anytime anybody asks me about Joe, I always think about the first class I ever sat in when I was starting in the fire department. That was S130 and S190, when Joe would come to Fall Creek and teach. It was a good class,” Stansberry said. “Joe’s always been accessible and I appreciate that. Whenever I needed something or had a question about something, he was always available. I’m going to miss him. I always felt like he did a great job, and I’m sure everybody else here feels the same way.”
Shoupe began his service as Avery County’s county ranger for 16 years. Previously, he served in Lincoln County as an assistant county ranger for six years, and he worked with the forest service at Linville River Nursery for seven years. Shoupe said the past 16 years were the best years of his career.
“I appreciate everybody’s support. We couldn’t have done it without the fire departments. We always tried to support you guys, and we appreciate all the help throughout the years. I appreciate my wife, too, because she raised our kids while I was out farming and fighting fires, sometimes even on the other end of the county. I appreciate her and what she’s done. Thank y’all very much. It’s been a real good career, and I always felt like I had the best job in Avery County. I loved it, but I felt like I had my full 30 minutes and it was time to move on to do something different,” Shoupe said.
Shoupe’s plans upon his retirement are actually to go back to work. He said he was retired for one full week before he picked up a new gig selling medical supplies, such as oxygen tanks. However, he plans to travel in the future when the time is right. Shoupe had previously announced his retirement to the community on Feb. 23, in which he stated the following:
“After a full 30 years of service it’s time for a change,” Shoupe said. “I’ve had a wonderful career, and worked with a lot of great folks. God has kept me safe and healthy all these years. Thanks to each of you for the friendship and assistance. If you’re in my neck of the woods, look me up or at least call. God bless you all.”