Deputy Fire Chief Leonard Honored at Retirement Celebration


Pat Leonard ended 39 years of service to the community this past Friday, January 3 with a reception in his honor at the Lamar Cultural Center.  Friends, family and co-workers were on hand to enjoy a buffet meal provided by the Lamar Fire Auxiliary as Fire Chief Marshall Cook emceed the event which was part serious and part humorous as Cook took an opportunity to ‘roast’ Leonard with a few comments about his days on the force, as well as a slide show depicting some social and professional events from his early career days.

On the serious side Cook provided an overview of Leonard’s service with the Lamar Fire Department, from his arrival in Lamar in 1969 to teach, to 1974 when he became a volunteer fireman with the department and attended the first class of EMT’s in the city, eventually becoming a mentor and teacher to many of the men now on the Lamar Fire Department, including Cook as a young middle school student who showed interest in firefighting.  “He has always had my back as a firefighter,” Cook told the gathering of almost 100 persons Friday night.  Leonard became a professionally paid member of the department in 1978, holding every position there was to assume within the department ranks as he moved his way into the Deputy Fire Chief Position.

Long time friends, Mark Reese and Joe Giadone complimented Leonard for being a good friend and a professional who earned the trust of all those persons he worked with for over almost four decades in Lamar.  Teresa Staples, from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, spoke about Leonard’s dedication to his profession, and presented him with a certificate of appreciation from the Division and two challenge coins which are issued by nomination among fire department members for their accomplishments.  Cook joked that, “Pat is getting one tonight just for quitting,” which drew a round of laughter from the audience.  Leonard also received a plaque from the City of Lamar plus his fireman’s badge and collar brass encased in a mounted box.  The crowning moment of the night was the presentation from the department of a two foot long, hand-crafted, wooden fire engine.  Engine #3, a copy of the unit used by the department for 47 years has since been retired and is now being restored by department members. 

Leonard spoke briefly to his friends and colleagues, offering thanks for the evening and recounting some early days with them in the department.  “Within our church, we’ve just done a study called ‘Be Rich’,” he stated, adding, “it’s not monetary value that counts, it’s all your friends.  Thanks for being there, and I’ll be there too,” he concluded.  Cook told the audience that Jeremy Burkhart had been selected to serve as the new Deputy Fire Chief for Lamar.

By Russ Baldwin



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