02-07-2004, 07:06 AM #1
63 year old "Crusty" Florida Fire Chief dies
This sounds like BIG TIME Crusty!
Pioneering St. Lucie fire chief 'Mac' McCorkle dead at 63
By Joe Crankshaw staff writer
February 7, 2004
FORT PIERCE — Ronald "Mac" McCorkle, the "firefighter's fire chief" who helped the St. Lucie County Fire District grow from a few stations covering the Fort Pierce area to a service covering the entire county, died Thursday of natural causes.
He was 63.
A Virginia native who came here with his mother and father as a child, McCorkle served more than 30 years in the fire department, earning a reputation for standing tall in the face of flames, the heat of controversy, and by the side of his comrades.
"I worked with him for 20 years, and he was always there for his men," Fire Chief Jay Sizemore.
"He liked nothing better then to go out after work and sit in a chair and talk with the firefighters," said Sizemore.
"He knew everyone's name, how many children they had, most of their problems and he wanted to help them. He was a helluva guy."
McCorkle was also there for the young people of St. Lucie County, former Fort Pierce City Commissioner Gloria Grimyser said.
"He devoted a lot of time to the city and the kids," she said. "He was genuinely interested in young people and sports."
McCorkle's devotion to young people is memorialized in McCorkle Field, a football stadium and track in Port St. Lucie.
"He was part of the heritage of the fire department and our city," said Port St. Lucie Mayor Robert Minsky. "And we owe a debt of gratitude to people like him who helped build what we have today."
"He helped bring the fire district into the future," said Jim Anderson, who represented the City of Port St. Lucie on the board of the fire district, and who did not always agree with nor get along with McCorkle.
"He gave many years of service to the people of this county."
A 1960 graduate of Dan McCarty High School and of the Indian River Community College fire school, McCorkle was one of the first three licensed emergency medical technicians in St. Lucie County. He held license number 40 in the state, according to his wife, Jeannie.
"He was a fireman first," she said.
McCorkle was equally devoted to his family. He attended almost every football game in which his son, Sam, played from high school through the University of Florida.
McCorkle became fire chief in 1986, succeeding Chief Russell Rogers. His tenure in the top spot was filled with challenges and problems. He was accused of not hiring enough women and other minorities, but replied he would hire anyone who was a qualified firefighter.
During his last years in office, two female firefighters sued the district alleging a pattern of sexual harassment by male firefighters, a charge McCorkle disputed. Two federal court juries upheld his viewpoint.
He retired in 1993, and devoted his time to young people and community activities.
He is survived by his wife, the former Jeannie Bolton; son, Sam Blaine McCorkle and wife, Vicki, of Fort Pierce; his father, Sam Blaine McCorkle, Jr., of Danville, Ky., and his mother, Irene Bolling Robbins of Ocala; three brothers, James R., John and Sam B. McCorkle; three half sisters, Yvonne Roberts, Lisa Waldron, and Ellen Downey; and two grandchildren.
Friends may call from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday at Yates Funeral Home in Fort Pierce. Burial, with full fire service honors, will be 11 a.m. in the White City Cemetery.
Those who wish may make contributions in his name to the Port St. Lucie Athletic Association Youth Football Scholarship Program, P.O. Box 8056, Port St. Lucie, FL 34985.
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