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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Deputy Chief
Age: 53
Year of Death: 2022

Bruce W. DeArk

Bruce Wayne DeArk was born to the late Robert Lee and Pauline DeArk on August 9, 1968, in the small Ohio River town of Utica, Indiana.

Bruce’s heart was set on becoming a firefighter from an early age, following in the footsteps of his dad, Uncle C.D., and cousin David. The process to become a firefighter was not easy for him, entailing 120 trips to the City of Jeffersonville Human Resources Department over a period of ten years, as required to keep your application up to date. Bruce became a firefighter on May 16, 2001. Never give up.

While serving the busiest firehouse in the city, Bruce took on the role of principal officer of the IAFF Local 558. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and, in 2012, was appointed deputy chief. Knowing the physical and mental toll of firefighting and the endless potential for occupational exposure to carcinogens, Bruce worked tirelessly to improve health and safety for his fellow firefighters. He researched gear, hoods, and cancer prevention in the fire service, purchased equipment, and implemented standard operating procedures, including more in-depth health screenings.

On March 19, 2018, at the age of 49, Bruce was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic colon cancer, later attributed to exposure to carcinogens on the fireground. He faithfully and dutifully served his department throughout his fight. Bruce’s “never give up” mentality served him well in life, in his battle with cancer, and in his efforts to share his story. These efforts have and will continue to save the lives of many.

The greatest joys of Bruce’s life are his daughters, Kayla and Tori. He was a hands-on dad from the moment they arrived in the world, taking on the role of nurse, chauffeur, chef, playmate, housekeeper, laundry attendant, and caretaker all rolled into one. Bruce was the heart of the home; his love was great and uncomplicated.

Bruce’s love of his family, loyalty to his Indiana Hoosiers, and support of the Jeffersonville High School Red Devils and the southern Indiana community he called home, was unwavering. We will forever miss Bruce’s beautiful blue-eyed smile, wisecracks, brutal honesty, never-ending goofiness, impatience for slow drivers, and that absolutely infectious laugh.

Bruce is survived by his wife of four years, Janet (Mayrose) DeArk; their many adventures and plans for the future were cut short. He is also survived by his daughters, Kayla Joly (Ethan) and Tori DeArk (Johnny Doss); siblings, Patty (Rick) Love, Robbie (Patty) DeArk, and Wanda (Ty) Atkins; in-laws (even though they are all Purdue fans), many beloved nieces, nephews, and greats.

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  1. I remember Bruce as a baby. He was always a sweet person. He was always close to his family. He was a very outgoing person. He loved working with the fire department. He loved Janet and his daughters. I wish I lived closer, where I could have spent more time around. He will always be in my heart. He will always be a hero.

    – Kathy Tew
  2. Bruce was an amazing neighbor, friend, parent, husband, etc. The one thing I noticed is missing from his long list of accomplishments, is how great a dog dad he was! Bruce welcomed all the puppies into his home with open arms and an open heart. He played with them, cuddled them, and cared for them so well. I took care of those dogs while he and Janet went on adventures across the country, and then eventually when they sought treatment in far away hospitals. Bruce and Janet are forever cemented in my mind as some of the most dedicated and loving pet parents in the world! Their daily routines for their boys were evidence of that. (Oh, to be one of the DeArk puppies… lol!)
    It was also pretty easy to forget that Bruce was the deputy chief of a busy fire department; every time I saw him, he seemed almost like a joyful kid! He’d get on the ground to play with the dogs, and he would proudly relay to me their most recent accomplishments, exploits, and even their worst moments! (Jax, specifically, lol!) He was just such a cheerful and loving person! He was patient and kind. He was the most wonderful dog dad.

    – Zoe Spiegel