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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Age: 76
Year of Death: 2002

Harold Coons

Submitted by his wife

Harold Coons‚ Jr.‚ 76‚ a lifelong resident of Schodack‚ New York‚ and the son of Harold and Helen Coons‚ was a farmer‚ mechanic and founding member of the South Schodack Fire Department. Captain Coons served as a volunteer firefighter for 45 years and was one of the department’s first Chiefs.

At the time of his death‚ he was directing Fire Police operations for traffic control and a med-evac ‘Landing Zone’ in the course of his department’s response to a serious traffic accident on US Route 9.

He had been Captain of the department’s Fire Police for the past 25 years He was also serving as Chairman of the South Schodack Fire District Board of Commissioners when he died‚ August 31‚ 2002.

Coons’ survivors include his wife Katherine‚ a long time SSFD Auxilliary member and a son‚ David‚ also of Schodack. Coons was a former member of the Rensselaer County Fire Advisory Board and a former committeeman for the Republican Party in the Town of Schodack‚ a position he held for 40 years. He was a member of the Reformed Church of Schodack at Muitzeskill. He was also widely known as ‘the Mayor of South Schodack’ because of his commitment and contributions to civic affairs and governance in his home town and county.

Colleagues recalled him as a mainstay of the community.

Chief Jerry Bohley described Coons as ‘a guy who dedicated his life to the fire service. Whenever we needed someone with experience‚ he was there. … He was a guy who was always here through thick and thin. You could count on Harold being there‚’ Bohley said.

Captain Tony Maier‚ himself a long-time South Schodack fire fighter‚ expanded on that theme when he was asked to react to his fellow commissioner’s death. ‘He would have wanted to go this way‚ doing something he felt was so valuable‚’ said Maier‚ ‘rather than die of cancer or something like that. He was doing something he cared deeply about.’

Several veteran fire fighters recalled Coons’ role in founding the company and developing its facilities and expertise. His casket rode from the funeral home to firehouse to cemetery on the hose deck of the department’s original truck‚ also known as ’34-1′ and ‘Speedy.’ It is the same truck‚ now restored as an historic piece‚ that Coons helped the company buy in 1957 and which he housed in his barn until the first South Schodack firehouse was built.

Ironically‚ the truck refused to leave the graveside. After the services‚ firefighters were unable to re-start ‘Speedy‚’ as the former Air Force pumper is known‚ when they attempted to return it to its place of honor at the station.

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  1. Just stopping by to pay my respects to this hero, and to thank him for his bravery and his invaluable service to the community. Harold will never be forgotten!

    Starla, proud baby sister of Kenneth Nickell, LODD 4/6/99 KY

    – Starla Taylor