The Transylvania Times -

By Mark Todd
Staff Writer 

‘Citizen’ Joe Pickelsimer Remembered


Joseph “Joe” E. Pickelsimer, who played a leading role in the development of the Brevard Fire Department and Citizens Telephone, now known as Comporium, was memorialized on Saturday.

Fire Chief Craig Budzinski said Pickelsimer was the fire chief when he joined Brevard Fire Department in 1974.

“Joe would be at every fire call I can remember, leaving his job at the phone company,” Budzinski said,

The fire department at the time covered most of Transylvania County and upper South Carolina around Caesars Head, with the exception of Rosman and Lake Toxaway.

According to Budzinski, Pickelsimer was instrumental in the fire department attaining an ISO rating of 5 in the city limits in the late 1970s.

ISO ratings are used to determine the quality of service provided to residents. Low ratings can mean very high insurance rates or no insurance at all for rural residents far from a fire station.

At the time, Brevard Fire Department was the only volunteer fire department in the state that had that low of a rating, Budzinski said.

“Joe was committed to having the best trained fire department,” Budzinski said. “We would always be training and sponsoring classes at Brevard for other fire departments to attend at the old fire training grounds on Illahee Road. This dedication to training carries over today in the Brevard Fire Department.”

Frank Porter, general manager for Comporium in Transylvania County, said he only met Pickelsimer briefly.

“But those who knew him speak of him as very intelligent with a superb memory of all the outside equipment, including the wires, fiber and poles,” Porter said. “It was said that he knew in his head all the details without having to go to the reference books.”

The 77-year-old Pickelsimer died Jan. 31 at The Oaks of Brevard.

A life-long resident of Transylvania County, Pickelsimer was born in 1934 at Transylvania Community Hospital.

After graduating from high school, he began working at Citizens Telephone Company. He began digging postholes and anchoring telephone poles. A few years later, he attended Brevard College to study bookkeeping. He later graduated from Northern Electric Electronics School in Galion, Ohio.

In 1936, his father, Charles Sr., and his brother, Joseph, acquired Citizens Telephone Company.

Pickelsimer was president of Citizens Telephone Company from 1960 until 2008, when the company was sold to Comporium.

In 1957, he joined the Brevard Fire Department and served for 28 years. He was fire chief for 12 years.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and two daughters.

“Joe Pickelsimer was a wonderful man and community minded citizen,” said Brevard Mayor Jimmy Harris. “He was quiet, meek and humble, but carried a lot of respect in the community as his leadership was demonstrated through his hard work ethic. Like his brother, Charles, his legacy to our community is one that has made a strong impression. He will be missed.”


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