Clarence “Speed” Hartbank was born in Moweaqua, Illinois, on May 13, 1936, to Clarence Sr. and Lelah Brookshier Hartbank. He attended Decatur area schools, graduating in 1954, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1955. He was trained in aviation electronics and serviced and maintained aircraft at Quonset Point Air Station. He flew with the Coast Guard as a radio and radar operator. Clarence was stationed aboard the USS Princeton (CV 37), and served two tours in the Far East. He was honorably discharged in 1959.
While in the Navy, he met Linda Doyle and they were married on April 23, 1960. They had three children, Keith, Brian, and Teresa. In 1970, the family moved to Kinnear, Wyoming, where Speed utilized his mechanics education by opening a garage in the community.
Growing up, Clarence was known by his family as Sonny, but to those in Wyoming he was known as Speed. Most people did not know him by any other name.
Speed joined the fire service in 1970 as a volunteer firefighter for the Morton-Kinnear Fire Department, which later became part of the Fremont County Fire District. He was promoted to lieutenant, assistant chief, and served as chief for two years. He was also an EMT. He served as president of the Morton/Kinnear Volunteer Fire Department from 1972 to 1978. He was instrumental in helping establish the Fremont County Fire Protection District in 1993, where he served as a captain and deputy chief. He was honored by being chosen as the Fremont County Fireman of the Year. Speed had a passion for the fire service that is rarely duplicated and was only surpassed by his love for his family.
On September 10, 2015, Deputy Chief Speed Hartbank responded to a grass fire with several fire units. During this call, Speed suffered burns to 40 percent of his body. He was flown to Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, where he lived the final four months of his life. Embraced by his family, sharing stories and a beer, Speed passed away peacefully with that familiar, friendly grin.
Speed loved his family so much and hoped that they would never have to experience some of the things that he saw as a firefighter. He provided a service to his community that most people cannot, and he did it with pride and dedication that is unmatched.
Speed is survived by his wife of 55 years, Linda; his three children, Keith, Brian, and Teresa; five grandchildren he was blessed to watch grow and laugh with, Brayden, Darcie, Brianna, Logan, and Riley; his sister, Louise Underwood, and brother, Fred Hartbank; his uncle, Fred Brookshier; and numerous nieces and nephews.