James M. “Jim” Pero, born on February 2, 1958, grew up in Eastlake, Ohio, and dedicated his life to righteousness and helping people in need. Despite his title being lieutenant or firefighter for over 30 years, he also served in the U.S. Army and always saw it as more than a profession.
He did not do it for the City of Mentor; he did it because it was his calling. Jim Pero is still admired and talked about by family and friends for his sense of humor, compassion towards the underdogs, and his fiery personality to never back down.
The fire lived inside Jim his entire life. From his childhood to today, he was known as a rebel and sometimes a troublemaker, but always in the right way. He would tell stories of growing up and sticking up for the kids who were bullied. Often those stories ended with him saying, “The principal would tell me, we need to pretend that you’re in trouble, but I’m glad you did what you did.”
It’s that passion to do what was right and never back down that made him so good at his job. Whenever someone pushed him to do something against his will, he would push back. If you asked anyone about Jim, the first thing they’d say was, “He’d always let you know where he stood.”
Outside of work, some would say his real passion was to make people laugh, and his little nieces refer to him as their inspiration for practical jokes. If you knew him, you knew when he was up to something. He’d have a quirky smile on his face, take a moment of silence, and strike. If he wasn’t physically helping someone at his job, he would do it by making people laugh. When you meet someone who knew Jim Pero, ask them about a joke he’s played on them and watch their face light up with the memory.
From his love of animals, especially his golden retrievers, to his love of exploration, Jim was never sitting down or in one place for too long. He traveled the world, lived a first-class life sailing the world on Disney Cruises, visited his home country of Italy, and toured London and Liverpool to get a firsthand experience with the history of his favorite band, The Beatles.
Despite putting out fires most of his life, no one could ever put out his. That fire lives on with his son Anthony, his wife Helen, brothers and sister, and everyone who’s taken a page out of his playbook to never back down.