President Walter Robinson Remembered with a Unique Tribute

Walter Robertson, a leader in the VA Volunteer Fire Service, and two-time CVVFA President died on January 26, 2023. The CVVFA, because of Walter’s exemplary service to the Association, sponsored a Dogwood tree in his memory. Virginia is the only state that its state flower is actually a tree. The tree and accompanying marker is in a special location at the Amelia Courthouse Veterans Cemetery is located southwest of Richmond on US 360.

How the Dogwood Tree Became a Symbol to Honor Firefighters

While the Virginia Firefighters Memorial Dogwood Grove is new, the tradition began with the Auxiliary to the Virginia State Firefighters Association (AVSFA), founded in 1928. After the memorial service at each annual conference or convention, a dogwood tree was given to local VSFA member organizations. Over the decades trees were planted all around the Commonwealth.

In 2019, Pete Kirby, Past President of VSFA and past fire chief/life member of the Centreville Volunteer Fire Department, had an idea: “It struck me that if one collected all of these trees in one place, it would be a powerful image. The dream was to create a Firefighters Dogwood Memorial Forest somewhere in Virginia where all could visit and enjoy the splendor of Dogwoods all in bloom at once. It would be spectacular.” Accompanied by President Carol Stickley of the VSFA Auxiliary they met with Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture Bettina Ring (herself a longtime Virginia forester and wildland firefighter) and Deputy State Forester Ed Zimmer of the Virginia Department of Forestry. VDOF facilitated contact with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services that graciously made land available at the Amelia Courthouse, Suffolk, and Dublin Veteran’s Cemetery sites where the memorial Dogwoods could be planted in groves.

History courtesy of the VSFA