Dan Packer was born August 12‚ 1958‚ in Havre‚ Montana. As an only child‚ he shared responsibility for the family ranch and developed an ambitious discipline that served him well throughout his life. As a young man he rode bulls‚ roped cattle‚ and was well liked for his sense of humor.
At age seventeen‚ he moved to the Seattle area for his senior year of high school‚ where he met his future wife‚ Marylee. While they did not date at the time‚ they were very good friends. Those early years laid the foundation for their 28-year marriage.
Dan and Marylee married in 1980 and had four daughters‚ Nicole‚ Katrina‚ Rachael‚ and Janelle. Dan’s wife and children greatly admired and respected him. He was a softhearted man who doted on his family.
Dan began working for the fire service in 1981. He served the first fourteen years of his career in Burien‚ Washington. In 1994‚ he accepted a position as battalion chief of the Bonney Lake Fire Department. He was named chief in 1995. As the chief‚ he facilitated the creation of East Pierce Fire & Rescue‚ a successful merger of several smaller departments. His vision for the department and its service to the community was very large‚ and it showed in how approached his work.
In 2004‚ he assumed the presidency of the Washington State Fire Chiefs‚ a position he retained until July of 2008.
In 2006‚ Dan’s first grandchild was born. Together with Marylee‚ he spent a great deal of time with his grandson‚ often having sleepovers and recruiting his ‘little shadow’ to help with projects such as washing the car and mowing the lawn. His devotion to his children and grandchildren was surpassed only by his love for his wife.
On July 26‚ in a wildfire in northern California‚ the 49-year-old chief died. He had just begun a two-week assignment as a division supervisor overseeing wildland firefighters in the Klamath National Forest‚ when the blaze suddenly blew up during a routine survey of the area.
His loss has left a great hole in the hearts of his family‚ coworkers‚ and community. His vision inspires all who knew him and loved him to move forward and live life voraciously.