Robert O. ‘Ockie’ Wisting

Submitted by his Wife

Ockie was a treasure to his community‚ family‚ friends‚ and his fire department‚ with which he served for more than half a century. He had a devotion to duty and a superior work ethic. He put his heart and soul into everything in life and anything he touched. He was an inspiration to all who knew him.

Ockie served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater during World War II‚ where he was commended by his officers for work of ‘extremely high caliber’ and the devotion to duty that is an inspiration to his fellow soldiers. He was a soldier of exceptional ability and qualifications.

A lifetime member of the Rio Grande Volunteer Fire Company‚ Station 72‚ he led as chief in 1965 and served in many other capacities‚ including engineer‚ lieutenant‚ captain‚ safety officer‚ and training officer. During more than 51 years of volunteer service‚ he answered more than 3‚600 emergency calls.

A master craftsman and inventor‚ he created beautiful furniture with his special Norwegian flare for his home‚ family and friends. His innovations included the ‘Ockie Nozzle‚’ a fire nozzle that can punch through the wall or roof of a house. When the fire company was unable to afford a new pumper in its early days‚ he added a front-mounted pump and tank to a 1959 Jeep body to create a pumper truck.

Ockie took his middle name from his great uncle‚ the polar explorer Oscar Wisting‚ who discovered the South Pole with Roald Amundsen in 1911 and flew across the North Pole in 1926. He shared with his namesake a sturdy directness‚ and can-do attitude. In 2000‚ Ockie traveled to Larvik‚ Norway‚ his father’s native town‚ where he was interviewed by the newspaper and visited his uncle’s cabin on the Polar ship Fram in Oslo.

In March 2006‚ a Sports Complex was named after him‚ known as the Robert ‘Ockie’ Wisting Fort Apache Recreation Complex‚ to honor his contributions to the Rio Grande section of the township of Middle. Ockie distinguished himself by over 51 years of volunteer service to the residents and visitors of Rio Grande.

A Memorial Motorcycle Run for the Big House fundraising event has occurred now for the past two years in memory of Ockie.

Ockie was a wonderful person and is gone from us. He loved helping people‚ keeping people safe‚ and that is how his community will remember him. Ockie: a loving husband‚ father‚ grandfather‚ friend‚ and firefighter‚ who unselfishly gave his life to make others’ better. We‚ your family‚ love and miss you and‚ in the words we heard you say many times‚ we will ‘carry on.’

Submitted by his Chief

Robert had 51 years of service with the department.