Donovan Artie Garcia Jr., known lovingly as “Dondi,” was born August 27, 1961, in Reno, Nevada. Dondi was a member of the Reno/Sparks Indian Colony, descended from the Washoe tribe of California and Nevada and the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe of Nevada. He was extremely proud of being a Native American firefighter and felt a special connection in defending and conserving his homeland.
Dondi loved his life of service. He graduated from the police academy in 1992 and became a Reno/Sparks Indian Colony police officer, serving his community for approximately five years. During this time, his lifelong twin best friends took him for a ride in their wildland fire engine. That day, his love changed from police work to firefighting, and soon he was off fighting fires across the United States as a professional wildland firefighter. Donovan’s proudest assignment came in February 2003 when he participated in the Columbia Shuttle recovery. This was a huge effort in which his team, along with many others, attempted to recover the remains of the seven astronauts and different items of the spacecraft.
Throughout Donovan’s career as an emergency responder, both career and volunteer, he acquired countless qualifications and certifications. He was a peace officer from the High Sierra Police Academy and received certifications in EMS and then as an EMT. His fire career began with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Western Nevada Agency (WNA), a 20-man hand crew based in Carson City, Nevada. He began working his way up the ladder as a basic wildland firefighter, advanced wildland firefighter, and single resource (crew boss). Later, he went to work with FireStop, a contract wildland engine company out of California, becoming qualified as an engine boss and engine operator.
After 14 seasons on the road as a professional wildland firefighter, Dondi retired, but fire passionately always boiled in his blood. In 2012, he was approached by the chief of the Hungry Valley Volunteer Fire Department, where his fellow members voted him to the rank of captain, then named him assistant chief. Dondi was ecstatic!
Donovan comes from a huge loving family as a son, the eldest of his siblings, brother, cousin, uncle, father, and grandfather. Dondi, a single father, raised his two youngest children, but passionately loved all his children. They couldn’t be any prouder of their father, as is the entire family. As a member of a big family, police, or fire crew/department, Donovan lived to serve others. His kindness and outrageous sense of humor are greatly missed. His name was added to the Nevada Firefighters’ Memorial in Carson City, Nevada, in 2014.
Rest in peace my father, my son, my brother, my friend. We will see you again.