With lights flashing but sirens silenced, a 1935 Chevrolet pumper and other fire vehicles led a procession through town on Saturday, honoring Silverton’s longest-serving volunteer firefighter one last time.
Capt. Bob Klaus served the Silverton Fire District for 55 years, only withdrawing from service 14 months before his death from brain cancer on Jan. 6. He was 75.
In thanks, firefighters took him on one final ride from Unger Funeral Chapel to Valley View Cemetery on Jan. 13 and spoke warmly about him at a following memorial service.
“At the fire district, he was a teacher, an adviser and the voice of reason,” said Chief Bill Miles. “ He is going to be sorely missed.”
Klaus was captain of Silverton’s tender division, a job entailing the oversight of three tanker-style trucks, related water transportation issues, and the training of new drivers.
While his job as a dump truck driver for Silverton Sand & Gravel made it harder to respond to calls over the last decade, he went whenever possible, attended weekly drills and trained younger firefighters, Miles said.
He was a faithful volunteer who even scheduled his vacations around fire district business, called ahead if he couldn’t attend drill, and helped solve an untold number of mechanical problems over the years.
Somehow he always managed to slip a funny story or joke into every occasion, from meetings to interview panels.
“He was a great storyteller and a hard worker,” said Bob Qualey, his friend, boss, and former owner of Silverton Sand & Gravel. “He liked to do things right. When he worked for me, he took care of everything.”
Silverton Sand & Gravel’s new owners, Ivan Schmidgall and Dan Schächer, said they’ve met scores of customers who just assumed Klaus was both driver and owner because…