By Megan Alley
The village of Bethel and Tate Township communities are mourning the loss of retired Bethel-Tate Fire Department Assistant Chief Robert Krekeler, who died on Feb. 3.
Krekeler, 72, was a native of Bethel, and with 55 years of service, he was the department’s longest serving firefighter.
Krekeler joined the department as a volunteer firefighter in 1961.
While a serving as a volunteer, Krekeler also worked as a Deputy Sheriff with the Clermont County Sheriff Department for 10 years.
Then, in 1991, Krekeler and Rick Stowell, who joined the fire department as a volunteer firefighter in1978 and has served as the chief since 2001, were hired on as the department’s first full-time employees.
“We had a blast,” Stowell said. “We had our differences, but at the end of the day, we were still as good as we were that morning.”
He added, “He was a prankster. We would have a competition to see who could make the most runs during the year.”
Krekeler retired from his post as assistant fire chief on Dec. 31, 2013, after which he served on honorary status for three years.
“He was all about the fire department,” Stowell said. “That was his life.”
Krekeler was married to his wife Janice Krekeler, and the couple has two children, Tammy Newberry and Charles Krekeler, 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, according to his obituary.
A visitation was held on Feb. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. and the funeral service was held on Feb. 8 at 10:30 a.m. Both services were held at E.C. Nurre Funeral Home, located at 315 W. Plane St., and Krekeler was buried at Tate Township Cemetery.
“I think his influence in the community was shown with the amount in attendance of the services,” Stowell said. “I mean, Bob never met a stranger. He would talk to everybody. He would always refer to them as ‘neighbor,’ whether he knew their name or not, or forgot their name.”
He added, “He had an impact on all of us.”
Memorial contributions can be made to the Bethel-Tate Fire Department, located at 149 N. East St. Bethel, Ohio 45106.
“The family would like it to go back to kids, somehow,” Stowell said. “The family has asked, since he did love kids so much, that any donations we receive be used towards fire prevention and kids.”