PRENTICE (WAOW) - Ron DeBoth never hesitates to volunteer -- whether it involves fighting fires, mowing his church's lawn, donating blood or making sure there's plenty of food for a community celebration.
The man nicknamed "Boots" is the newest Jefferson Award winner, which recognizes people dedicated to helping others by volunteering.
DeBoth was a firefighter for the Prentice Volunteer Fire Department for 42 years -- 12 of them as chief.
"When you come up and it's someone you know real good, it's a sad deal. I wouldn't trade (it) though. I would do it all over again," Deboth said.
DeBoth was the 173rd person in Wisconsin to get certified as an EMT. Now there are thousands.
The firefighter provided advanced training to fellow members of the rescue crew and developed a mapping system so they could get to emergency calls faster.
He remained with the department until the love of his life -- his wife Arlene -- fell ill. "I quit when the wife had a stroke and I had to be with her."
In his free time then, DeBoth led the effort to install an elevator in his church to make it easier for people with disabilities. It's the same church where DeBoth has mowed the lawn on hot summer days for 35 years.
For the last 46 years, including this weekend, he has coordinated food for the annual Prentice Progress Days celebration.
"Anyone who doesn't have a Ron DeBoth is missing out. Anything that's good: your church, the fire department and EMT service, the Lions Club. Ron is there for anything where good people gather," John Anderson said.
Anderson nominated DeBoth for his Jefferson Award.
DeBoth is literally a pro in giving the gift of life.
"This October will be the 95th time I will give blood. I am just one pint short of 12 gallons given. I was pretty proud of that," DeBoth said.
His friends and family know him simply as "Boots." Many of them watched as he accepted his Jefferson Award on Monday.
DeBoth, a humble man, says volunteering is about building a sense of community.
"It's for helping people. I don't think there's a better way you can do that," DeBoth said.