The late Robert J. Habeeb Sr., one of the founding members and a past president of the Chinchilla Hose Company, enjoyed volunteering and being involved in the Abington-area community.
“South Abington Township did not have a fire company. It was a farming community that was turning into a residential community,” said Habeeb’s son, Timothy Habeeb of Clarks Summit. “My dad went to New Jersey to buy a used fire truck. He and others put up their houses for colleterial.”
Habeeb added his father drove the truck up the Burcher Street Hill as a test to see if it would make it up.
Habeeb Sr. owned a store called Bob’s Cut Rate.
“My dad put a sign-up sheet on the counter for anyone who wanted to be a firefighter,” Habeeb said. “Everyone who came in the store signed up. The year was 1956, and that was the year the Chinchilla Hose Company was charted.
“My mother, the late Shirley Habeeb did not know about the fire truck or the house being used as colleterial until she went to the fire house for a celebration for the new fire truck.”
The first fire station in South Abington Township was at a cinder block factory which was later torn down. The present fire station on Shady Lane Road was then built.
Habeeb died on April 30 at the age of 92. The fire truck he helped purchase is still at the fire station, a tribute to his lifetime of community contributions. It was used to carry his casket from the Kevin K. Kearney Funeral home in Scranton to Saint Ann Maronite Church and Scared Heart Cemetery.
Members of the Chinchilla Hose Company served as pall bearers.
He was a member of the Gateway Lions Club.
His positions with South Abington Township were numerous including postmaster, tax collector, auditor and member of the board of supervisors. He also served on the Abington Heights School Board and was a member of the Harrisburg professional license board.
“My dad held every position he could with the township,” said his daughter, Paulette Habeeb-Farry of Clarks Summit.
The township honored him by naming part of the notch by Chinchilla “Habeeb Notch.”
Habeeb worked in car sales for many years and loaned the then-new police department a “car of the day,” according to Habeeb Farry.
“My dad would lend Officer Fetzer a car from the lot to be the police car everyday,” she said. “It was whatever car Fetzer wanted that day, which was usually a convertible.”
Habeeb also worked on Lackawanna County Judge Carmen Minora’s campaign and then worked as the judge’s courtroom assistant.
Habeeb was a veteran of the United States Navy during World War ll.
He was an usher at Our Lady of Snows for 65 years.
“My husband, John Connolly owned a smoke shop in Chinchilla,” said Beryl Connolly who was a friend of the Habeeb’s. “He first rented from Bob and then bought the building that contained the smoke shop in 1966. “Bob was a great guy and extremely friendly. He’d do anything for you. We became friends when we rented from him.”
“Bob was one of my favorite people,” said Ted Zielinki, a member of the Chinchilla Hose Company. “This firehouse is because of him. Clarks Summit covered South Abington Township back then. He had the foresight that South Abington needed a fire and police station and he got it off the ground.”
He was the youngest of 11 children of the late Abraham and Mary Mosour Habeeb, and his siblings all proceeded him in death.
Robert Habeeb Sr. and his late wife Shirley Habeeb were married in Our Lady of Snows Church in Clarks Summit. At the time of her death on Nov. 21, 2013 they were married 55 years.
He was also the father to Robert Habeeb Jr. of Chicago Illinois, Jody Ferdyn of Clarks Summit and John Habeeb of Apex North Carolina and grandfather to R.J., Marlo, Hailey, Timmy, Danny, John Paul, Katie Habeeb and Mickey and Amelia Farry.