Submitted by his wife
Tom Kistler was a 25 year veteran of Polk County Fire District #1. He started out as a volunteer firefighter at Independence Fire Department and moved up the ranks to become Captain. This was an achievement he and his family were very proud of. He died March 19‚ 2003 in an accident on route to a HAZMAT training drill.
Over the years he received numerous awards such as ‘Firefighter of the Year‚’ ‘Medic of the Year‚’ and ‘Night Owl’ (most respones during the night hours.
In addition to geing a volunteer firefighter‚ he was amember of the Oregon National Guard. He had recently completed 30 years service. There he was involved in communications‚ a natural transition from radar man in the Navy. He served in the Navy for four years during the Vietnam War.
When not working‚ volunteering‚ or spending time with his family. Tom was near the water. He loved boating‚ water-skiing and fishing. His love of water led him to establish the departments water rescue. He enjoyed spending countless hours obtaining funds and equipment for the water rescue team as well as practice ddrills as a member of the team. This was why he may have been seen wearing the T-shirt that simply said‚ ‘BOATMAN.’
Tom was born in 1949 in Richmond‚ Indiana‚ the oldest of five children. He talked of growing up in a small farming community. This was what drew him to Independence‚ Oregon. There he developed a love of animals and at one time considered becoming a veterinarian. But‚ life was to take him elsewhere. He was oriented to serving people instead. He started out in autom mechanics after leaving the Navy‚ but eventually worked with transporting handicapped and elderly. Everyday he came home with a new story to tell about his passengers. He had found his passion‚ working with and serving people in all areas of his life.
His life was very full. I‚ his wife of 30 years‚ often called him a professional volunteer. He was a prout and devoted father to his two sons‚ Ben and Phil. They were both a part of him and loved very much. He volunteered as coach and rarely missed an activity they were involved in. He took every opportunity to spend time with them.
Known to friends as ‘Tommy‚’ he was respected by co-workers‚ firefighters‚ guardsmen and the community. He was dedicated to anything in which he was involved. His contribution to life will be missed.