To be able to do the same thing for more than sixty years, it's safe to say that you would have to really love what you do, be passionate about it, and keep learning to stay at the top of your game. That's what 79-year-old Nelson Durland has quietly been doing as a firefighter for sixty-one years at the Hurleyville Volunteer Fire Department.

Mr. Durland is often described as a firefighter's firefighter because of his dedication and commitment to his community. He joined the department in 1957 where his father and grandfather were also members. He remains an active member, still answering daytime fire calls.

He is also a role model to younger generations as he has not only volunteered his time but also served on the board of many organizations throughout Sullivan County including the Town of Fallsburg Fire Chiefs Association, Sullivan County Fire Advisory Board, Sullivan County Arson Task Force (charter member), Loch Sheldrake Fire District Board of Commissioners, Firefighters Association of the State of New York, Sullivan County Volunteer Firefighters Association (overseeing multiple annual parades), the Eastern Sullivan Fireman’s Softball League, Hudson Valley Royal Order of the Red Vests, the Liberty Presbyterian Church, the Liberty Lodge No. 521 of Free & Accepted Masons, the Liberty Elks Lodge, and the local chapter of AmVets.

In his spare time, he and his wife Joan host West Point cadets at their home for a meal and relaxing afternoon as well as maintaining the Doris Durland Playground, named after his mother at the Hurleyville Firehouse. He retired in 1995 from his job at the Sullivan County Department of Social Services where he helped his fellow citizens for more than 30 years.

The community has always been at the center of what he does, it's been a lifelong commitment for him which is why he was recently honored with the Sullivan County Legislature's Distinguished Citizen Award. Congratulations Nelson, and on behalf of the thousands of lives you have touched throughout not only Sullivan County but the Hudson Valley as well, we say thank you.

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