Dale was a 1973 graduate of Rhinelander High School. After serving in the Navy, he returned to his hometown and worked at Silent Knight Security Systems, installing hoods in kitchens and working with fire extinguishers. He had a passion for playing around with fires, so he joined the Pine Lake Volunteer Fire Department and started learning the ropes.
He met Jan, and they married in October 1983. In 1985, their son, A.J., was born and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, which required frequent hospital care. To help pay the medical bills, Dale applied for a full-time job with the Rhinelander Fire Department. He was hired in 1989. Dale and Jan bought a house, and Dale continued his career, moving up to driver/EMT. Their second child, Brandon, was born in 1991. For three years, Brandon was very healthy, but he was also eventually diagnosed with CF. We were told life expectancy in children with CF was maybe 16.
As the kids grew, we made many trips to Marshfield to see medical specialists. Family time was very important. On his days off, Dale did lots with the boys—fishing, hunting, and partridge hunting. Jan, a stay-at-home mom, was part of all of this, except the deer hunting; that was for the guys. Brandon spent a lot of time in the hospital receiving breathing treatments and IV antibiotics.
Dale continued with his career, taking EMT courses and becoming an instructor at Nicolet College. He ran the EMT station at Hodag Country Fest. In 2010, A.J. married Ellen. It was a very special time. The boys were 20 and 26; they had beaten the 16 mark! Brandon moved to Oshkosh for a job, taking care of his health the best he could. In 2012, he became ill with pneumonia and passed away on June 26, at age 21.
In 2013, Dale became deputy chief until his retirement in January 2015. Dale and Jan enjoyed their time together and had many plans. Dale decided he would volunteer again as a firefighter with Pine Lake, where A.J was also a captain. It was really special for both of them to serve the community.
The night before Dale’s death, he took an EMT run, and that night he was fine. The next day, Jan found him unresponsive and not breathing.
We had to postpone Dale’s funeral until A.J. came home from the hospital. It was a beautiful LODD funeral that Dale so much deserved. The night of Dale’s funeral, A.J was flown back to Marshfield with complications to his lungs and kidneys. Jan stayed with A.J. and Ellen, knowing she had to keep going to support her daughter-in-law. They had two angels looking down. On July 10, A.J. joined his brother and his dad.
Jan and Ellen have a special bond that will always hold together until they meet up with “their boys.”