Clyde pays its final respects to Fire Chief Mike Andrews

CLYDE Clyde city residents braved biting winds on sidewalks and porches Thursday morning to pay homa
Sarah Weber
May 24, 2010



Clyde city residents braved biting winds on sidewalks and porches Thursday morning to pay homage to a man who served the community for 41 years.

The Clyde Fire Department laid to rest its chief, Mike Andrews, with a winding procession of fire trucks and emergency vehicles from Mitchell-Auxter Funeral Home to St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Andrews died Sunday after a brief illness at the age of 62.

He wore the chief's hat for eight of his 41 years with the fire department.

Several city residents lining the streets wept as they watched vehicles from a dozen area fire departments pass under a large American flag, which was suspended from two raised ladder trucks.

Most residents huddled against the cold and somberly watched the slow parade of flashing lights.

The procession stopped at Heritage Hall and at the recently completed fireman's memorial, where firefighters set out a wreath in the chief's honor.

The procession then continued down U.S. 20 to St. Mary's Church on Vine Street.

Clyde firefighters lined the steps, saluting the chief's casket as it was carried into the church by family and friends. Firemen, emergency service workers, police officers and about 250 students from Vine Street Elementary stood along the street.

After the service, Andrews was buried at St. Mary's Cemetery behind the church.

Acting fire Chief Paul Fiser said he was happy memorial events went so smoothly.

"Mike was very firm, but he never held a grudge," Fiser said. "It was like his job in life to make everyone want to laugh. He was a jolly guy, and I'm sure everybody says this, but he would give you the shirt off his back."

He said he was grateful to the Clyde Police Department and the community for helping to honor the chief. He said Bellevue and Sandusky Township Fire Departments covered Clyde's fire district so all 35 Clyde firefighters could attend the services.

"We are a small town, but you take a worldwide corporation like Whirlpool with their flags at half mast -- that really got to a lot of us," Fiser said.

"I think the firemen have done an excellent job," city manager Dan Weaver said.

Weaver said he was not at all surprised to see the large turnout of firefighters and trucks from surrounding departments.

"Firemen throughout Northwest Ohio are just one big family," Weaver said. "It's out of respect. They know what the job calls for and the commitment it takes."

Police Chief Bruce Gower said the memorial services were a fitting farewell for a man who did a great deal for the community.

"Even the weather cooperated," Gower said. "It's a little cold, but at least it isn't raining or snowing."

Peggy Stickney, principal of Vine Street Elementary School, said she had her students go outside to honor the chief as part of a lesson on community awareness.

"Sometimes you just have to take moments that are teachable," Stickney said.

The students wore fire department stickers distributed to them by a volunteer firefighter and were given a classroom tutorial on how they should behave and why they were honoring the chief and his service.

"There are several students whose dads are volunteer firemen, so out of respect for those families and out of respect for the chief we did this," Stickney said.

The students stood in three lines across the street from the church, placing their hands on their hearts as the firemen saluted the casket.

"I told them we would be out here to honor the life of a public servant and someone who gave so much to the community," Stickney said.

Fiser said there has not yet been any discussion about including a permanent memorial to Andrews at the fireman's memorial, which will likely be dedicated this spring.

"Mike would want us to step up and get back to work, but we just need a few days here," he said. "Its going to be a loss for the community for a long time."