Ken Temke was a volunteer firefighter at our department. Our department consists of paid personnel and volunteers. Ken was devoted to his wife Rhonda‚ his 6 year old twins‚ and his friends‚ family and to his community. He died at the young age of 45 on March 25‚ 2004 upon returning from a vehicle fire. He suffered a massive heart attack while exiting his engine. We all loved him as much as he loved us.
Ken‚ also known as squirrel‚ was a 7 year veteran of the Alexandria Fire District. In our service a squirrel is known to people as someone who listens to his pager faithfully and sneaks to the firehouse in anticipation of a fire run. He always wanted to be the first on a truck and the last one off. Everywhere he went‚ people knew him. Ken loved his firehouse so much that a few months after his death‚ I received a certificate stating that he had finally achieved his 400 hours of training right before his death. I know he was looking down on us seeing the joy and proud looks we had on our faces and knowing he achieved firefighter level 2.
Ken had a full time job at Avis Rent a Car for 26 years. He watched people come and go but he remained faithful to his job. He loved to bowl‚ play golf and spend time with his children‚ Andrew and Rebecca. He was the life of the party when we had family gatherings and when we entertained our friends at our home.
With the sudden passing of Ken‚ his family and friends have learned a great life lesson‚ to embrace each day and to live life to the fullest. Ken lived his life that way‚ and it took this terrible tragedy for us all to learn that lesson.
Ken is survived by his wife Rhonda‚ our twins Andrew and Rebecca‚ his mother Jane‚ his brothers Steve‚ Joe‚ Gary and Kevin‚ his sisters Sharon‚ Karen and Lisa. He also left behind a special mother in law Judy‚ and brother in law Eric. He is also survived by the wonderful family we have at the Alexandria Fire District.
Gary was an Eagle Scout and a U.S. Army veteran. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Katy and had served for 5 years as a City of Katy Councilman. He was dedicated to his community and his fellow man. Over the years he belonged to 43 service organizations. He excelled in all of those organizations by being Chairman‚ President‚ Person of the Year‚ etc.‚ etc.‚ etc.
Gary volunteered for 31 years with the Katy Fire Department. During that time he served the department as Assistant Chief‚ Rescue Captain‚ Suppression Captain‚ Lieutenant‚ and Quartermaster. At the time of his death he was living his dream of being Chief of the Katy Fire Department. Gary had a passion for training firefighters. He founded and served as coordinator of the Katy Area Vehicle Extrication School for twenty years. Gary served as an instructor at many fire training schools across Texas. Among those were the Texas A & M Municipal Fireman’s Training School for 20 plus years.
During his years in the fire service Gary was honored with many awards. Among those were Firefighter of the Year for the Katy Fire Department‚ Firefighter of the Year for the Gulf Coast Firefighter’s Association‚ and Firefighter of the Year for the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas. Gary was awarded Instructor of the Year from the Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties as well as Instructor of the Year from the Texas Society of Fire Service Instructors.
Gary is survived by his wife of 37 years‚ Jo Ann Tilton‚ and his daughter and son-in-law‚ Laurie Tilton and Rusty Anderson.
Alan David Toepke born October 9‚ 1973‚ died April 24‚ 2004.
Alan is the son of David and Sharon Toepke of Winona‚ MN. He leaves his fiancee’‚ Stacey Nelson‚ two sisters‚ Beth of Longville‚ Minnesota and Linda of Deer Harbor‚ Washington. His brother Steven preceded him in death in 1997 in a canoeing accident in Alaska.
Al grew up in Winona‚ Minnesota‚ but also lived in Sandstone‚ Longville‚ and Brainerd‚ Minnesota: Ketchikan‚ Alaska‚ Wilmington‚ Illinois‚ Big Sky and Bozeman‚ Montana. He graduated from Winona State University in 1999.
Al always enjoyed being outdoors‚ so his employment with the DNR Trails & Waterways‚ and an MCC Crew supervisor both located in Minnesota‚ the National Forest Service in Ketchikan‚ Alaska‚ The Rainbow Ranch‚ and as a supervisor for Men at Work both in Big Sky‚ Montana gave him that opportunity. He was most recently employed by the National Forest Service on the Midewin Hot Shot Crew‚ containing forest fires throughout the United States. This was Al’s second season on the crew.
Al will be fondly remembered for his love of family and friends‚ hunting‚ walleye and fly fishing‚ camping‚ hiking‚ snowboarding‚ mountain biking‚ his travel experiences‚ his enthusiasm for living‚ his quick wit‚ and his many heart-to-heart conversations. He could easily cheer people and could talk to anyone about anything. You could tell when Al was in a room‚ because there was always lots of laughter. He loved to teach people about the outdoors: how to camp‚ hunt‚ fish‚ and snowboard‚ while maintaining a respect for nature and a love of the land.
It was Al’s wish to be a tissue donor and for his memorials to be used for promoting wildlife habitat‚ Pheasants Forever Programs‚ and to help teach young people a respect and love for nature at Camp Olson in Longville‚ Minnesota.
Wayne’s first love‚ after his family‚ was flying‚ and he always felt at home when he was in the air. He maintained a commercial pilot’s license for the last forty years. He owned and operated his own flying service and was on his second season of aerial fire fighting. He was killed on June 17th fighting fire in the Dameron Valley‚ Utah.
Wayne was extremely active in the community and the schools‚ and always enjoyed the time he spent with the kids of Big Sandy. Some of his favorite activities were coaching‚ wrestling and the Science Olympiad. We also enjoyed taking in 10 exchange students plus numerous other kids.
Wayne was also a volunteer fireman for 29 years‚ EMT‚ city council member‚ 32nd degree Mason and Shriner. He had endless amounts of energy and loved the outdoors. He was funny‚ enthusiastic‚ hard working‚ intelligent‚ and even sometimes handsome‚ but most of all he was ‘neat inside’. Wayne was always ready with a quick joke‚ a smile and a big bear hug. He was caring and compassionate and was always reaching out to others in need. It didn’t matter if he had known you five years or five minutes; he was always ready to help. He was still a child at heart and was never too busy to have a good ‘romp’ with one of his grandkids. He was affectionately known as ‘that crazy Grandpa Wayne’. He will be missed by all who had the honor of knowing him.
He was survived by his wife of 37 years‚ Jan; two children‚ Trina (Chad) Salois) and Jeff (Kristie) Turner; a foster son‚ Daniel (Heather) Adams; ten exchange students; eight grandchildren; his mother‚ Edith Turner; sisters; brother and many aunts‚ nieces and nephews.
June 5‚ 1955–the day he was born–August 25th‚ 2004–the date he died. How do you write about a son that was so special to his son‚ brother‚ parents and friends‚ and not sound like you’re bragging?
After graduation David was not interested in college. His ideal job was to get hired by St. Joe Lead Company‚ now Horsehead Industries. Day after day he would go to the employment office to see if anyone was being hired. We always said the company hired him in 1973 just to get him out of the personnel office. He worked there for several years until they closed the plant for a short time. He got another job‚ and then one day he got a call asking if he wanted to go back to St. Joe. He did! In a minute! He was still employed there at the time of his death.
At 18 years of age he joined Raccoon Township Volunteer Fire Department‚ following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father. David was very dedicated to our fire department. No matter what time of day or night‚ when the siren blew‚ David‚ his father‚ and brother were out of the house and on their way to help in whatever way needed. He worked most events the fire department held–fish fries‚ wedding receptions‚ the annual firemen’s fair‚ etc.
His personal enjoyment was hunting and fishing. It included local fields and lakes‚ to fishing in Chesapeake Bay‚ and hunting antelope in Wyoming. That was one of his biggest thrills‚ getting an antelope. A hunting trip to Alaska was another special memory.
As a father he was always there to do things with his son. When Mathew was much younger they enjoyed raising rabbits together. As Mathew’s interest grew regarding tractor pulling‚ David was there to support him‚ give some help financially‚ and mechanically.
He was a member of Ducks Unlimited‚ their main goal is to raise funds to save the wetlands. Again‚ he was there helping. This past September they honored him at their annual banquet.
What makes me feel certain he was a well-liked man was the number of people we did not know that told us how he was always there to help‚ people he worked with every day‚ helping his friends farming‚ or helping his brother build his home.
Beside his 21-year-old son Mathew‚ David leaves behind his brother Drew and sister-in-law Debra‚ and niece Kristin‚ and parents Robert & Beverly Vinisky.
My husband‚ Donald Eugene Ward‚ was 46 years old when he passed away suddenly of a heart attack.
Eugene‚ as I called him‚ and Donnie‚ as his co-workers called him‚ was living a dream come true. He started out as a volunteer firefighter and EMT in the small town of Beallsville‚ OH. When he got accepted into the fire academy in Columbus‚ OH‚ he was so excited. He was going to be paid to do something he loved. He had been on the City of Columbus Fire Dept. for 12 years when he passed away. He was a firefighter‚ a paramedic‚ a haz-mat tech‚ and rode in charge on the Rescue. He was also the firehouse cook at station 4. Eugene was respected by all those that he worked with. He was very conscientous about doing his job well and he expected the same from others.
Firefighter Ward received 3 Fire Service Awards of Merit for Outstanding Service and 1 Battalion Chief’s Commendation for Outstanding Service. The Battalion Chief’s Commendation was for saving a man’s life in a car accident while he was off duty. I was with him when that one happened. Several people had already given the man up as being dead‚ but my husband got in the vehicle and opened the man’s airway. He was air lifted to a local hospital and‚ as I understand‚ recovered and was discharged from the hospital. My husband always gave me the credit for saving the man’s life because he had already driven past where the accident happened. I was coming up the road behind him‚ saw the accident and called him to come back.
Eugene also had a contracting business besides his firefighter job. Some of his firefighter buddies worked for him. He built 1-2 houses per year around our local area. He had a very good reputation in the community.
Eugene was also a born again Christian man and belonged to Berean Baptist Church in Pickerington‚ OH. I know that he is in heaven and I will see him again one day. I know that his prayer would be for all his friends and family to accept Christ as their Saviour so that they would one day be with him in heaven‚ too.
In closing‚ Eugene was a wonderful husband and father. He loved me and his son‚ Jordan very much‚ as well as the rest of his family and friends. We all miss him so much.
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