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State salutes two Princeton firefighters

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PRINCETON — N.C. Insurance Mike Causey on May 28 presented the Order of the Guardian Award to a father-and-son duo that gave the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department 102 years of combined service.

Causey, who is also state fire marshal, presented the award to the late Kenneth Starling and his son, Ken Starling. Kenneth Starling’s widow, Peggy Starling, accepted the award on her late husband’s behalf.

The elder Starling operated the family auto sales business while volunteering at the fire department, Causey noted. “Kenneth rarely missed a fire call, but I’ve been told that he’d sometimes leave a customer on the car lot to go fight a fire,” he said.

“Ken followed in his father’s footsteps,” Causey said. “It’s just an honor that I can be in the presence of the family to present this tonight.”

The senior Starling was a lieutenant in the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department for more than 40 years. He also served as the department’s chaplain. The younger Starling served as chief of the department from 1991 to 2007. Both retired from the department in August 2019.

Causey spoke on the importance of the volunteer firefighters’ work. “I live in a rural area,” he said. “We depend on our volunteer fire department. The volunteer fire department is the center and the hub of every community – the church and the fire department.”