By Elaine Henson
Andrew Emile “Punky” Kure, Jr., – Part V
In the early 1970s, before they sold the Kure Motel, Punky and Jean began to build a house for their retirement years. Their house on Sixth Street South between J and I Streets, was completed in 1973. They moved in that same year.
Punky continued to work in the Chesapeake area of Virginia until 1981 when he retired from commercial flying. After that he had more time to spend on some of his favorite things and hobbies.
He was and still is devoted to Kure Memorial Lutheran Church. His family donated the land for the church and was instrumental in establishing it in the 1950s. Punky and Jean were both charter members before they were married. He helped build the chapel and later the brick church and was always lending a hand with projects along with ushering. Jean was very active, also.
Up until her death in March of 2018, she prepared the communion for each Sunday service for fifty years. Jean also sang in the choir and knitted chick covered Easter eggs for children and adults alike for many years.
Before the Covid-19 quarantine, Punky didn’t let being home bound keep him from attending services. Weather permitting, he rolled up the street in his hover round most Sundays and hopes to resume that again when it is safe.
Another organization close to his heart is the Fire Department. His father, Andrew, was the first volunteer Fire Chief at Kure Beach, so Punky was involved from an early age. When his father died in 1950, he took over as Fire Chief and remained in that position until he went to Louisiana for fish spotting.
In those days they had volunteer fire meetings in the Town Hall on K Avenue. (It was in a back room of the ABC Store which was in the building to the right of present-day Bud and Joe’s.)
Kure’s first fire truck was donated by Fort Fisher after WWII. It was a pickup truck with a 200-gallon water tank, a pump, and 200 feet of hose. Since there was no firehouse, it was parked next to Andrew Kure’s home on K Avenue. After the town was incorporated in 1947, fire hydrants were installed over the community.
The volunteer firemen held fish fries, bingo nights, and other fund raisers so they could build a fire station. By 1954, the four walls were up on Third Street across from Kure Lutheran, but Hazel came along and blew them down. They began again, and this time got the building completed. (It is now used as the Community Center.)
When a fire call came in, they would have to telephone the volunteers at home or at work. There were no cell phones back in those days. Only those who were not working or otherwise occupied at the time were available. Usually there would be at least two and sometimes as many as ten volunteers show up. Later a fire siren was donated which was installed on the water tower to call in the volunteers.
Kure Beach Fire Department operated as a strictly volunteer department until Harold Hagler was hired as Fire Chief in 2001. He had been the volunteer chief for over 30 years. The department has full time salaried firemen now, but still has several volunteer firemen. Punky still has an emergency scanner at his home to keep up with fire calls at the beach.
Next Month: Punky Kure, Part VI