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Dr. John Neter, a distinguished member of The Cedars of Chapel Hill, celebrates his 99th Birthday.

Four generations of the Neter family were present to honor Dr. Neter, including his son Ron, who shared this delightful experience during their celebratory week:

My wife, Mona, and I were in Chapel Hill from Los Angeles for a week’s worth of celebrations in honor of the 99th Birthday of my dad, John Neter.

While all having lunch at Brixx Pizza last Thursday, a gentleman approached our table and began speaking to my father. My wife and I initially assumed that it was one of my dad’s many friends from The Cedars’ community.

However, as he spoke, it became clear that this was not the case. “Aren’t you the man I saw jogging through town today?” he asked John. My dad laughed and the man introduced himself as LeRoy Smith, explaining that although he was not in uniform, he was the fire chief of Holly Springs, North Carolina.

We discussed our visit to celebrate my dad’s 99th Birthday and that his two adult granddaughters, son-in-law, and 4-year-old great-grandson were also arriving that night from California for a long weekend. At this point, Chief Smith mentioned, “If you are ever in Holly Springs, stop by the fire department and we’ll take you for a ride on our fire engine.” He wished us a good lunch and was on his way.

Not to pass up an opportunity, I called the fire department later that day and left a voicemail message explaining that we would like to take Chief Smith up on his offer. Sure enough, the next day, while at lunch, we received a call back to set up the visit.

On Valentine’s Day, before our return to LAX that afternoon, we drove to Holly Springs Fire Station One. We were treated to a tour of the fire station and met many firefighters, as well as “Cinder,” their working Labradoodle and mascot.

At this point, we were escorted to the bay to see their brand new, state-of-the-art, 62-foot-long, million-dollar fire truck. My dad, his 4-year-old great-grandson, Eli, and I were allowed onto the truck, put on the communication headsets, and given a wonderful ride around town. This fire engine is amazingly agile, requiring both front and rear drivers, and can maneuver into very tight spaces.

We were all very impressed, and I am unsure who was more thrilled, Eli or my dad!

-Ron Neter