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Cottrel: Fire dispatcher Citizen of Year

For their 2012 Citizen of the Year the Enon Village Council chose one of our local guardian angels, Linda Kankey.

Since 1978, Kankey has been one of the emergency dispatchers for Enon Mad River Twp. Fire and EMS, and more recently for Hustead and Pitchin also.

In a statement, Enon Mayor Tim Howard fondly referred to Kankey as the “reassuring voice on the other end of the phone.” And I believe most township residents would agree.

For a while, Kankey was also one of the dispatchers for Bethel Twp., so folks in that area might recognize her calm voice also.

For 35 years her scanners and radios have been on as she has waited for calls for assistance.

“When I started, we were using CB radios,” said Kankey. “We’ve come a long way.”

Kankey is currently one of the five dispatchers who answer emergency calls to 937-864-1994. Calls to 911 get routed a different way.

When a call comes in during her shift, Kankey gets the address and, after quickly consulting a map, determines which department to notify. Then she “drops the tones” that has the responders scrambling to help.

After the response is set in motion, dispatchers stay in touch with the situation to help as they are needed.

Born in Miamiville, Ohio, Linda met her husband, Roland while she was working as a civilian at the Pentagon. Air Force duty brought them to Enon in 1981.

The couple raised three boys, Adam, Andy, and Jason. All graduated from Greenon before going on to become engineers in different disciplines. Adam is an electrical engineer and Jason is a chemical engineer.

Andy had just earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering when he passed away two years ago. A loving son, brother, and uncle, Andy will always be missed by family and friends.

Jason and his wife, Kary, live in Missouri now and have two sons, Ryan and Justin. Luckily Adam and his wife, Tara, live nearby in Beavercreek and brought something new into the Kankey household, a girl, a granddaughter named Bella. Having a granddaughter is especially sweet for Linda since she grew up as the only girl in her family also.

Linda also refers to herself as an engineer, a domestic engineer. Her expertise is in construction of clothing, quilts and stuffed animals. For most of her life, she has sewn and it’s not just the simple stuff.

“I had already done two weddings before I graduated from high school,” said Kankey who has sewn dresses for scores of weddings over the years. “I have pictures of almost all of them. I’ve met so many people.”

She has also been the seamstress in demand for proms and other formal occasions.

“One dress I particularly remember is a silver sequined dress for Martha Hahn,” said Kankey who was glad the sewing gave her the opportunity to get to know the legendary Enon resident.

Kankey also sewed costumes for the Greenon Drama Club, band, show choir and various groups through the school. She was a quilter at the Fair at New Boston back when it started and has sold stuffed dragons at a renaissance fair.

“I think I’ve sewn just about everything.”

I remember watching Linda working on a beautiful iridescent orange dress while sitting next to her phones and radios.

When the phone rang, the pleasant smiling seamstress instantly became the professional dispatcher. After the call was settled, she calmly returned to her hand sewing.

“Its kind of like being a mom,” she said. “You have to be focused.”

Linda’s husband is retired now from the military and civilian service, although he still teaches college classes on “cost estimating.”

I asked her if she had thought about retiring.

“I will not discuss retiring,” she said.

Currently she is working on yet another wedding dress and keeping her ears open for a call for help.

When she got the call from Mayor Tim Howard telling her she had been selected as 2012 Citizen of the Year, she asked him if it was an April Fool’s joke.

“I was shocked. I never thought I’d be nominated for that,” Kankey said. “I just do things for people.”

Linda Kankey will be honored for all that she does at the 2012 Enon Community Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year Awards at 2 p.m. May 5 at Knob Prairie United Church of Christ, 203 W. Main St., Enon.

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