LAFAYETTE - A former township fire chief and 35-year resident received the Lafayette Senior Citizen of the Year Award in a ceremony April 28 at Lafayette Middle School. Mayor Rick Hughes presented the award to Charlie Clink, who attended the Senior Citizens' Luncheon with family members and Lafeyette senior citizens. Clink's family and friends kept the award a surprise, and he thought he was attending a luncheon in honor of his parents' 70th anniversary. "My longevity is miniscule next to theirs," said Clink, who added he doesn't "feel like a senior citizen." Clink's mother, Hilda Utter, received the award in 1985. Lafayette Middle School Interim Superintendent Ken Gross introduced the award, and Hughes presented it to Clink after praising him for his many volunteer efforts, including his work on the Newton Fire Patrol. Hughes, who met Clink after joining the fire department, said he was proud to present the award to "a friend and also a brother in the fire service." Each year, the Lafayette Senior Citizens' Club nominates an exceptional senior citizen to receive the award, according to Hughes. The township council then takes a vote, and if it approves the nomination, presents the award at the Senior Citizens' Luncheon, which has been held at the Lafayette Middle School for the past eight years. Although Hughes knew about the award for at least a month, Clink still attended the luncheon not knowing he was the guest of honor. "I must say, Chuck, this is the first time we've been able to surprise you," said Alice Demarest, Lafayette Senior Citizens' Club president. About 20 eighth-grade volunteers worked in shifts to set up the room, serve the luncheon and help clear the room after the ceremony, under the direction of Betsy Martone, English teacher and eighth-grade advisor. The food was organized by Kathy Smith, food service manager, who served up chicken, steamed vegetables and salad, as well as pastries for dessert. The students kept up a constant pace serving food, removing empty dishes and filling drinks for the guests. The school itself owes part of its existence to Clink's civic-mindedness. "I knew the gentleman who owned the property [where the school was built] and introduced him to the school board about 21 to 22 years ago," said Clink. Clink's son John, who currently lives in Germantown, Md., drove up for the event. "I got to my brother's house at 2 a.m. last night," said John, who added the surprise was almost blown when he accidentally met up with his father in the hallway of the school. Luckily, the elder Clink thought he was attending the party for his parents. Clink joined the Lafayette Township fire department in 1981 and went on to hold all the offices in the department including fire chief in 1993. He organizes the Lafayette Senior Citizen Christmas luncheon at the fire house every year and gives classes and presentations on fire prevention to senior citizens. The Senior Citizen of the Year Award has been presented to a senior volunteer every year since 1972. Clink attended the ceremony with his wife, Cathy Clink, sons John and Kenneth, daughter Beth, parents Marcus and Hilda Utter, stepchildren Lisa Pearn and Shawn Molnar, grandsons Kenny and Jeremy and granddaughter, Kayla. Clink is a member of several hunting clubs in the area, as well as several fire associations from the town to state level. An Army veteran, he served with the Signal Corps in Korea.