Mayor Michele Dale honored Christel Dygos as the township’s 2019 Volunteer of the Year and presented her with a plaque at the Sept. 2 meeting of the Mayor and Council.
Besides providing emergency care as a West Milford First Aid Squad volunteer, Dygos is also known for the comfort she offered to patients during the stressful times of the evaluation of their problem and emergency transport to the hospital.
She held their hands listened to their stories and concerns and sometimes offered a funny joke in an attempt to temporarily take the patient’s mind off the current situation.
A time of transition
After 39 years of service, Christel is transitioning to the West Milford First Aid Squad Auxiliary and will continue as a member of the Equipment Committee, whose responsibility is to loan medical assist devices such as wheel chairs, canes, and crutches to the public. She will also continue to attend various fund raising and community events promoting the First Aid Squad.
Dygos, speaking at the township meeting after the mayor presented her with a plaque, said she has made many, many friends in the squad, which she considers her second family. She mentioned her long time partner Ken Cuneo, who was her squad partner for 18 years as being especially memorable.
The journey from East Prussia to West Milford
She said she loves West Milford and looks forward to serving the community for years to come.
Christel was born in Tilsit, East Prussia, a province of Germany, on June 16, 1934, to Margarete and Franz Wiemer. Her life growing up in Tilsit amongst farmlands and the nearby Baltic Sea was a very enjoyable time in her life.
When World War II broke out between 1944 and 1949 the Weimer family fled to the south to avoid the advancing Russian Army. They landed in Saxony, Germany, and then Barvaria, recalled Cristel.
Several of her older family members migrated to America prior to World War II. They sponsored Christel and her family to come to the United States. The family settled in the Bronx in 1949. Christel attended high school there. Her father was unable to adapt to the new life and soon returned to Germany.
American citizenship in 1954
Christel, her sister Ann Marie and mother Margarete became American citizens in 1954. This is a milestone that Christel continues to be very proud of.
After high school graduation she worked as a secretary in New York City where she met her husband Bob Dygos. Four children were born to the couple and later there were eight grandchildren.
Bob was a very active volunteer who served as a West Milford Board of Education trustee. He was also a youth sports coach. Bob passed away on their 39th wedding anniversary in 1994.
Christel joined the West Milford First Aid Squad in April 1981. Prior to that, she served many years on the squad’s Ladies Auxiliary.
As a squad member she held various committee and officer positions, most recently as a trustee. During her tenure as an EMT, she has volunteered for day and night shifts and answered many calls as a member of the backup crew.
Over the years she has participated in many of the squad’s fund raisers and could be found helping at the Squad’s special details such as high school football games, Autumn Lights Festival, the Greenwood Lake Airport Air Show and emergency standbys.