Assistant Chief Raymond C. Richert

01/01/41 to June, 1979

02/12/1919 – 01/18/1985


My dad had many close friends within the brotherhood of the GFD. He first served 3 years in the US Navy/Army Reserves. After that he served the GFD 39 ½ years. My dad was a Christian, even turning around the life of a fellow young serviceman who liked to drink….a lot. Sometime after Dads’ death, after going through Chief Teeters, that serviceman wrote my mom and I and told us many things we already knew. Mr. Born told us that my dad changed his life.

The first I remember about my dad and the fire department was when I was about 5. He looked so good in his uniform and had the brightest blue twinkling eyes. He worked at Western Auto on one of his days off, which he referred to as “kelly" days. We always had Western Flyer toys at Christmas. Hey an employee discount was needed back then. The second day off was for family. Since my sister, Judith, was nine years older than me, I got to spend many days alone with Dad learning to ride my bike and learning to fish, which was his favorite pastime. My dad played Santa in the early years, but we knew it was our dad because of those eyes.

We spent a lot of time at the Wildlife Club fishing and even if we had gone out in the boat, he never got angry when I said “daddy I have to go", he paddled back to the doc and waited for me. I learned you can catch a fish with just about any thing, except popcorn. We spent a lot of time as a family at the outer banks including Cape Hatterass, and always stayed at a KOA campground. At the beach, I was taught surf fishing, fishing from the pier and crabbing, which is still my personal favorite to this day.

My dad was given the nickname “Yank" upon being employed because he was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He rose up the ranks from firefighter to Driver to Captain, to Battalion Commander, to Assistant Chief all on a high school education, of which I was extremely proud!! He started his career at Central, served many stations some I remember 4, 5, 7 that was at Church and Bessemer, new 7, Gatewood Drive, 8, and 9. His career went full circle from Central downtown, to new station 1 on Church Street. Dad didn't bring the fire dept work home with him. I only saw him cry a few times. Mom said it was when a child died in a fire and we should just let him work it out and he did. He always taught us to be safe, not to use candles and how to prepare an escape plan because dying in a fire was the worst way to die.

I remember Easter egg hunts at Station 9, now 49. We got to go see him at Central station downtown, and I pestered him to let me slide down the pole. He finally said yes! I had on shorts and you can guess what happened. Yes I had to walk funny for weeks until the rash on both thighs healed. I guess dad did know best. Sometimes the guys would invite our mom and us over for a steak dinner on a Sunday. Dad had a raised bed and me and Kelly O'Ferrell, also a fireman’s kid would slide under his bed. We probably cleaned the floor.

It seemed every grade I was in we had career day and I always volunteered my dad, sometimes forgetting until the day before to tell him, but he always showed up, happy and in uniform.

My dad was a very gentle man, he didn't let petty things bother him, he loved Jesus Christ first, then his fire family, then his family. He was a great father who never spanked us, he left that up to mom, and she could dole it out. I know he was in a position of boss at times, but he always treated each person fair and square. Daddy raised rabbits and I was older when I found out that the German version of chicken and dumplings was rabbit and dumplings, or as my dad referred to them as sinkers. They were made from mashed potatoes, egg and flour and they would sink to the bottom of your stomach. Sometimes we also had quail. Double treat. My mom hated making that dish but the rest of us loved it so she would fix herself something else. My dad was a very good cook. He made magic green scrambled eggs, which I later found out was just scrambled eggs cooked in a cast iron frying pan. If Dad ate it I ate it too. I think I had my first raw oyster cocktail at about 3 yrs old, maybe younger. Dad would douse everything he ate with ketchup and when asked why he said “some of those rookies cannot cook, but, I gotta eat it and everything goes with ketchup". Nuff said.

My dad always said to try to learn something new everyday because you are never promised tomorrow, and that all you had was your character and your reputation and you should never let anything scar that. I wish we had had more retirement time to truly enjoy it, but God had other plans for him.

Dad told us of some funny things that happened at the firehouse. Some not so funny. There was the incident with the chocolate milk and the exlax, which most older retirees know about. He also made horrible coffee, so much so that when he was a Captain, his coworkers cut letters from magazines and left him the following note: “Capt, please don't make no more sackin' coffee”. No one person would sign it but I think he took their advice. There was a story about my mom and Krispy Kreme donuts that I'm sure he shared with someone.

My dad love the fire dept so much in all his years he never took a sick day until the very end of his career. Even if he had the flu he would go to work. I think the idea of many females and only one bathroom was not so appealing so work was a much better option. There are a lot practices and policies that my dadof My dad helped to create. Policies and accreditation that are still in force today.

My dad had to retire on medical disability in June of 1979, due to severe lung injuries he acquired during the early years before gas masks were made available. He was just 6 months shy of making it 40 years. It was rumored that he had about 6 months sick leave because he NEVER took a sick day. He was never bitter. He never said a bad word against the fire dept. He lived the life God gave him. But, when they hired the first female firefighter he did say that was their best decision ever. My dad was honest and brave. He could keep confidences to himself. Most of all he was great dad, loyal husband and most of all a good friend and confidant. I’ve missed him every day. I was only 28 when God called him home. I did promise to take care of mom and I always did to the best of my abilities.

My dad was and always will be my true Hero!!


Debra Richert