This memorial tribute is a small remembrance of many years of caring friendship and professional ties with those who have gone before us. We are grateful for having known these friends, we appreciate their accomplishments in their communities, and we know that the memories of their lives will be inspirational to us as we continue our journey.
"No man is an island, entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent...
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind."
— John Donne (1572-1631)
Let us all remember those who have been a part of our emergency management family in the past, especially those who have died in recent years.
- In Memoriam: President George H.W. Bush (1924-2018)
In 1993, IAEM recognized President George H. W. Bush with the IAEM-USA National Security Award, for his dedication to national security by resolutely sustaining policies leading to the end of the Cold War era. He served the United States as its 41st President from 1989 to 1993. In the photo, IAEM President John K. Schroeder (left) presented the award to President Bush at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine. We join others who are extending condolences to the entire Bush family. President Bush’s life of service is an example to us all.
- Robert “Bob” R. Plath, 84, Des Moines, Iowa, passed away on Dec. 19, 2018. Bob was a volunteer firefighter for many years. He worked for North Western Bell (AT&T) and set up 911 for the State of Iowa. Upon his retirement, Bob served as the Emergency Management Agency Director for Polk County, Iowa. He also volunteered for many years at Lutheran Hospital as a patient escort. Bob was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Beverly Plath, his brother, Tom Plath, and his parents. Bob is survived by his children Brian Plath of West Des Moines and Tawni Plath Rubin of Dexter, Iowa; four grandchildren, and one great-grandson. See complete obituary. IAEM expresses sympathy to Bob's family, friends, and colleagues.
- John M. Marmon, 63, Topeka, Kansas, passed away Aug. 21, 2018. He was emergency manager for the University of Kansas and worked in public safety his entire career. The Kansas Emergency Management Association (KEMA) 2018 Conference was dedicated to John. He was a past member of IAEM. Prior to joining University of Kansas as emergency manager, he was a city police officer in Garnett until 1980, when he joined the Kansas Highway Patrol and was stationed in Emporia. In 2001, John was promoted and moved to Topeka. He remained on the Highway Patrol and began the first narcotics dog program in the state of Kansas. He retired as a lieutenant in 2007 after 27 years of service. John was hired as the emergency manager for the KU campuses and worked there until health issues forced him to retire. He participated in numerous Parkinson's related studies for KUMC.
John was survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and three children, Ben Marmom, Lindsay Marmon McCullah, and Gabrielle Marmom. His daughter, Erin Elizabeth, preceded him in death in 2012. John was grandfather to eight grandchildren. For details, please refer to the online obituary, which discusses John's active involvement in his church and in his community. IAEM expresses sympathy to John's family, friends, and colleagues.
- John E. "Rusty" Russell, 63, an IAEM Lifetime member, passed away on Aug. 26, 2018, at his home in Taft, Tennessee, after a sudden illness. Rusty retired in 2016 from his position as director, Madison County (Alabama) Emergency Management Agency. He was a recipient of the IAEM-USA Clayton R. Christopher Memorial Award, recognizing his unselfish devotion and outstanding contributions to the overall emergency management profession. He served multiple terms as IAEM-USA Regioni 4 president; and he was a past president of IAEM-USA (2014-2015). He also served as president of the Alabama Association of Emergency Managers and the North Alabama Mutual Aid Association.
Rusty was a career U.S. Army veteran, who served most of his 21 years of duty in Germany. He retired honorably in 1996 as a Senior NCO for the Army Material Command’s Logistic Support for the Pershing Missile System at Redstone Arsenal. Rusty was hired in 1996 by the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) as the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program Specialist. In 2001, he was appointed Director of the Huntsville-Madison County EMA.
Apart from his professional career, he was the owner of Russell Blueberry Farms in Taft, Tennessee. Rusty was well known for his remarkable talent as a square dance caller in both Germany and the United States, and his friends and family enjoyed countless karaoke evenings with him. He is survived by his children Katrin Russell (Dennis), John Russell (Sandra), Amber Gilmore (Roy) and Crystal Burdette (James), sisters Tracy Russell (Lisa) of Fayetteville, Tennessee, Windee Creekmore of Hazel Green, Alabama, Sherry Hubbard (Gene) of Brevard, North Carolina and brother Brent Russell (Lee Ann) of Asheville, North Carolina and a host of nieces and nephews.
A veteran's memorial service will be conducted later, when additional family members arrive from Germany. A notice will be posted about the date/locaion of the service, as soon as that is shared with IAEM (more details). IAEM expresses its deepest condolences to Rusty's family and friends.
- John Howell Pickett Jr, CEM, 83, passed away on Aug. 11, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. Visitation and memorial service will be on Aug. 16, 2018. See obituary for details. In 1958, John was commissioned as U.S. Army officer. During that time, he and his family lived in Virginia, Washington State, Germany, and Texas, and John served his country for a year in Vietnam. He left active duty in 1969, but continued to serve for many years in the U.S. Army Reserve. John found a job with the City of Dallas, where his talent and work ethic eventually made him director of the city’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. He received a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and a MLA from Southern Methodist University. John retired from the City in 1990, but remained active in the emergency management community, becoming 1988-1989 president of the National Coordinating Council for Emergency Management (now IAEM). John is survived by his wife of 63 years, Dana Rhea Welborne Pickett; children Tina Gay Pickett Holmes, Bonny Kay Pickett Green, and David Alan Pickett; five grandchildren; two great-grandsons; two brothers, three nieces; two nephews; and numerous cousins. The benefits of John’s kind and generous spirit, innate leadership qualities, and engaging intellect spread well beyond his family. IAEM expresses its sympathy to John’s wife Dana, his family, friends, and former colleagues. Learn more about John online.
- Roman John Reichensperger, Jr., CEM, 82, passed away on June 30, 2018, at his lake home in northern Minnesota, following 20 years of remissions and recurrences of leukemia/lymphoma. John became active in emergency management in 1972, when he was named civil defense director for the City of Ely, Minnesota. During this time, he was instrumental in northern Minnesota in implementing mutual aid agreements and all-hazard warning systems. He was the City of Superior and County of Douglas (Wisconsin) emergency management director until he retired in 1998. During this time, John became the first emergency management director in Wisconsin to become nationally certified. His goal upon retirement and the star in his career was working as a FEMA reservist the FEMA Planning Cadre 2001-2015, until he retired due to his health. He was a Rotarian, a Lifetime Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) of the International Association of Emergency Managers, and an active member of Knights of Columbus. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve. Besides intensely loving his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, John loved motorcycling, fishing, and woodworking. IAEM expresses heartfelt condolences to John’s wife Karen and his family and friends. Learn more.
- William L. Walker, 68, retired Erie County EMA director, passed away on Apr. 15, 2018, at his home in Orange Park, Florida. Bill joined the United States Air Force after graduation and made the military his career. While active duty, he was involved in the Vietnam War and he and his family were stationed all over the world – Thailand, Oklahoma, Turkey, New Jersey, England, and Arizona. After retiring from the Air Force, Bill took the position of director of the Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security in Sandusky, Ohio. He established Erie County's first countywide 9-1-1 system, and Erie County's first hazardous materials team. Bill was a member of many organizations, including IAEM, and served as president and board member of the Emergency Management Association of Ohio and past president of North Central Emergency Management Association of Ohio. Bill was proceeded in death by his wife of 46 years, Jerilyn Walker, and his father, William J. Walker. He is survived by his sons, Bill (Maravic) Walker and Brian Walker; daughter, Shelly Walker; mother, Olive Walker; sisters, Barb (Craig) McPherson, Mary Eckert, Sue (Dave) Ebersole; numerous grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. See additional information. IAEM expresses sympathy to Bill’s family and friends.
- Michael P. “Mike” McCaffree, 62, passed away on Apr. 2, 2018, in Lakewood, Washington. He was operations manager at the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, Tacoma, Washington. He served a total of 34 years in the U.S. Army Infantry as an officer in service to the nation. He was a mature leader and broadly experienced at the local, state, and federal levels. He retired from the Army in 2008 as a colonel. Over his lifetime Mike worked and volunteered in many fields, including county emergency management, search and rescue, HAZMAT and weapons of mass destruction response, communications and electronics, anti-terrorism and law enforcement, and safety and health. He was a member of IAEM. Mike graduated from Eastern Washington University with a BA in radio and television management. He received an MS in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College and an MA in theological studies from Faith Evangelical College. Mike’s family meant the world to him, and after retiring from the military, he enjoyed traveling with them. He also enjoyed serving the community by teaching a weekly Bible study and serving free meals to the homeless. Mike’s dream was to have a mobile breakfast ministry and to travel and minister to others. He loved meeting people and wanted to help them wherever he went. IAEM expresses heartfelt condolences to Mike’s wife Nan, his daughter Katherine, and his mother Joan. Learn more.
- Terry L. Reekers, 64, Emmet County (Iowa) emergency management coordinator, passed away on Mar. 23, 2018. He was a former member of IAEM. After obtaining a degree in police science at Western Iowa Tech, Terry served his community as a Kingsley police officer, later becoming the Hull County Police Department’s chief of police. Terry became an EMT in Hull and was active in prehospital care. In 1977, he joined the Estherville Police Department and continued to provide EMS to those in need. In 1980, he joined the Emmet County Sheriff's Office as chief deputy, and in 1987 took over as director of ambulance service. In the late 1980s, Terry began working for Emmet County Emergency Management, where he developed the office into a full-time position. He was a past president of the Iowa Emergency Management Association. He served his community through leadership roles at Grandview Baptist Church, and he was the current president of the Spirit Riders Chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. As an EMT for more than 30 years and a Certified Firearms Instructor, Terry taught classes in first aid, CPR, firearms, and hunter safety. At the time of his death, he was working on the Gold Star Family Memorial and Veteran’s Park, to be built in Estherville. Terry was survived by his wife Connie, three children, five grandchildren, and his mother Mary Ann Reekers, as well as five siblings and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. IAEM expresses sympathy to Terry’s family, friends, and colleagues. To learn more about Terry and share your condolences with his family, visit the online memorial web page.
- James E. "Jamie" Turner III, 66, past director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and a member of IAEM until his retirement in 2015, passed away at home on Dec. 28, 2017. A viewing will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, 11:0 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Clayton Fire Hall, located at 300 East Street in Clayton, Delaware. Masonic services will begin at 1:00 p.m., followed by the celebration of life services. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Clayton Fire Company, c/o Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1050, Clayton, DE 19938. IAEM expresses sympathy to Jamie's family, friends, and colleagues.
Jamie served Delaware as a dispatcher with the Delaware State Police, a senior instructor with the Delaware State Fire School, executive secretary of the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association, and served as the director of DEMA for 13 years, under Governors Minner and Markell. Upon his retirement in 2015, a training room – fittingly – at DEMA was dedicated in his honor. At that ceremony, Governor Markell said, “The citizens of our great state are forever grateful for Jamie’s commitment to public safety.” In addition to his career, Jamie was always working to make the community a better place through his volunteer work. He joined Clayton Fire Company in 1966 and was a proud 50-year member. He served as deputy chief, lieutenant, vice president, secretary and director and was named Fireman of the Year in 1975. He was also a life member of Holloway Terrace, Minquas, Delaware City and Smyrna Fire Companies. He was a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason and a member of St. Peters Episcopal Church of Smyrna. Jamie is survived by his wife Debbie, with whom he shared 37 years of marriage and happiness; his daughters Kim Willson (Mike), Katelyn Olson (Sean) and the loves of his life – his grandchildren Keegan and Kolton Olson and Madelyn and Harper Willson. He is also survived by his sister, Melanie Meyers, his “bonus” daughter Laura Wisler, and his lap dog, Holly. Condolence letters may be sent by visiting www.fariesfuneralhome.com, where you can read his obituary here.
- Jeffrey M. McClaran, 49, of Waukee, Iowa, died unexpectedly on Dec. 2, 2017, during an annual outing with close friends. Jeff is survived by his wife, Celina, children Krista and Todd, step-daughter Amber, mother Sandy, sisters Jolene (Tony) Kendall and Janae (Aaron) Boyer, many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. Services were held on Dec. 8, 2017, at Lutheran Church of Hope, West Des Moines. Jeff worked extensively in emergency response and served his community. He was a fire medic first in Perry and later in Waukee. He was also an EMT with Dallas County EMS. Jeff began work at Wells Fargo in August of 1994 and worked his way through the ranks. Since 2002, Jeff has been part of the company's Enterprise Incident Management group where he was a vice president and led the company's emergency response and training activities. Jeff was committed to serving his community and served on several boards and commissions in leadership roles. He touched many lives as a responder and a protector. He was a graduate of Central College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business management with a minor in psychology. A former member of IAEM, Jeff was a long-time friend of emergency management in his work with Wells Fargo, which received the IAEM-USA Partners in Preparedness Award some 15 years ago. IAEM expresses sympathy to Jeff's family, friends, and colleagues.
In Memoriam Archives: 2017 | 2013-2016