Clay Fire Marshal Dave Cherrone retires after 52 years of service
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- “99% of those people when you say why do you want to be here, I wanted to be a firefighter since I was a little kid, I am not one of those people,” says Dave Cherrone, Clay Fire Marshal. “Because I wanted to be an attorney and I had already mapped out where I wanted to go to school, and where I wanted to go to begin with.”
Clay fire marshal, Dave Cherrone, did not see ‘firefighter’ in his future.
“I had an older brother here at the time, and I was in high school, and he said look we are trying to get some volunteers some new volunteers and I said okay whatever,” says Cherrone. “And I said okay I will give it a try for the summer.”
But one summer, turned into…
“Devoted, dedicated, he had a calling, it was a passion, it was never just a job,” says Izzy Cherrone, Wife of Fire Marshal Cherrone.
A commitment. One that goes well beyond just the 9 to 5.
“There is missed meals, missed occasions, there is worrying, is he okay,” says Izzy. “It never stops, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You would like to keep it to yourself, but what good is it if you take it and hide it in a bucket, you have to share, and he was made to share.”
Now, after 52 years of service to clay fire, Dave Cherrone is turning in his hat, and with it, a lifetime of moments. This is the story behind ‘firefighter Dave.’
“I went to clay middle, clay high and a girl found out who I was goes Oh my god you are fireman Dave’s daughter, and she even signed my yearbook something about that and I did not know he was that big of a deal at the time,” says Lisa McCreary, Daughter of Dave Cherrone.
Fire marshal Cherrone dedicated his career beyond emergency situations, but also, to his passion for education. He spearheaded the mobile trailer used in schools to teach fire evacuation techniques.
“We were not showing them a movie or showing them something on the floor,” says Cherrone. “We were actually taking them into a two story window and having them climb down the window, and the ladder or crawl down the steps so it was really good.”
And outside the classroom---the care continued.
“And when people have been a fire and they have lost their home he is there to help them, to know what to do, who to look out for so people do not take advantage of them,” says Izzy. “It takes a special guy, and this all goes through his head all of the time, it takes a special guy.”
In the face of trauma, loss, and devastation, it was often Dave on the other end of the phone.
“It is a big deal and people appreciate it and all you are doing is taking a phone call you call people for other things why not call and see how they are doing.”
“People always well somebody should do something, Dave chose to be a somebody,” says Izzy.
And alongside fire marshal Cherrone, there’s Izzy, his wife of 44 years.
And through it all, she’s always been proud.
Young people are looking at the fire service, through Hollywood eyes, and this is what it is expected to be, but it is not like what you see on TV,” says Izzy. “You take risks every day, people do not come up and say atta boy good job it is not the same, but he never did it for the atta boys or the recognition.”
Dave credits his wife and two children to his success. Their support -- shaping him into who he is today. He continues to be a role model for them all, including his daughter who decided to work for South Bend fire.
“He taught us to work hard with everything we do, I hope that I do that, I like to think that I am,” says McCreary.
“I will thank the good lord for that every day that I have got someone that I can look at as an incredible role model, a great father, a good friend, I am grateful for that,” says Izzy. “I just wish his parents were here to see his accomplishments, they would be so proud.”
His wife, calling the fire station one last time Friday to talk with her best friend.
“First I would call him the most wonderful man, then as his titles would change, so tomorrow I will call one last time and say hubba hubba you still light my fire Dave Cherrone,” says Izzy.
And after decades of 24/7 dedication, he will finally punch in the card…for good this time.
“I am very proud of that, that he has devoted a life to helping others, and you do not even know these people but for that moment when they are in their crisis mode he is there to help them,” says Izzy. “He is just a great guy, and I am glad I married him.”
Although his devoted journey is coming to an end, his legacy will continue to live on in all of the lives he touched.
“I guess if you summed it all up if you took a line out of a Jimmy Buffet song, some of it was tragic, some of it was magic but I had a good life all of the way,” says Fire Marshal Dave Cherrone.