Submitted by his cousin
My cousin Gary was a member of the community of Argyle‚ a small town in southwestern Wisconsin. The people of Argyle are wonderful folks‚ most who know the concept of community and public service‚ and live it every day. Among them stood Gary‚ who served as an example for every one of them. President of the Argyle School Board‚ Assistant Fire Chief‚ and deacon‚ Argyle Lutheran Church Board‚ were titles he held formally in his lifetime of service. Informally‚ and without fanfare‚ Gary helped many people‚ residents of his community and just those passing through.
He came from a family who served and are still serving the Argyle community. His father helped establish an auto parts rebuilding plant in the town‚ employing many of its citizens at a time when the family farm was declining. Gary was a third generation resident of Argyle. His parents were my Uncle Willard and my Aunt Mildred‚ one of my father’s sisters. Gary’s and my grandfather‚ Fred Richter‚ who my father proudly named me after‚ farmed‚ ran a chicken hatchery‚ and did masonry in Argyle.
Perhaps ironically then‚ and very tragically indeed‚ Gary died when a chimney collapsed. Even more tragically‚ his son‚ Alan‚ also a volunteer‚ then a fourth generation resident‚ was standing just feet from his father when he died. As is the case in too many fires‚ both structural and wildland‚ Gary died after knockdown had been achieved.
My father moved from Argyle to become an aerospace engineer in southern California. Thus‚ I grew up in a big city and did not experience the examples of community service which are so close when living in a small town. I reversed the direction my father had taken and moved to many small towns in my career with the U.S. Forest Service‚ becoming a wildland firefighter among other things‚ and serving on a volunteer fire department in a small town in New Mexico. I was living there and serving as a volunteer when the news of my cousin’s death reached me.
I can only hope that my service to the communities I lived in and my service to the public during my career can match what Gary accomplished.