Dennis Charles Straight was born in Niles, Ohio, on April 15, 1959. He was the only son of Chester and Mary Straight. He graduated from Niles High School and then Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Dennis loved to travel, especially in remote desert areas of the Southwest where people rarely go. He eventually moved to California where he meet his wife, Jane, who was a desert rat. They spent every chance available roving around the Southwest, off-roading and primitive camping.
After moving to South Carolina (and closer to his aging mother), they settled in Van Wyck in Lancaster County. This friendly community welcomed them, inviting them to church and community events. He was also recruited to join the Charlotte Road-Van Wyck Volunteer Fire Department.
He signed up over 20 years ago. Dennis was always going to training meetings and firefighting classes. The radio would go off at all hours of the day and night. On night calls, he’d hop out of bed and be out the door in no time. As years went by, he was still enthusiastic but a bit slower. Dennis served in many positions such as firefighter, first responder, training officer, assistant chief, chief, and on the Lancaster County Fire Commission. At the time of his death, he was serving as assistant chief.
On November 7, 2018, the pager went off just as dinner was ready. He was called to the scene of an accident at the intersection of two major highways. It was a dark, rainy night, and he was directing traffic around the collision. He was struck by a car and was killed instantly. Like many members of firefighter’s families say, “He died doing what he loved.”
Dennis was a true Renaissance man with diverse interests, from Shakespeare to motorcycles. In his younger years, he got his pilot’s license and flew small planes. He was a licensed amateur radio operator as well as an amateur photographer and writer and a voracious reader. He was a lifetime Cleveland Indians fan and a Deadhead. He was very involved in his community. He enjoyed volunteering at Andrew Jackson State Park, especially the Revolutionary War reenactments. He had a blast!
He will be remembered for his quick wit and unflagging generosity of spirit. He was always ready to help others and listen to their problems and was good at getting them in a better frame of mind, even laughing. He lived one day at a time. Dennis is greatly missed by his family, friends, and community, especially by his firefighter brothers and sisters.