Belpre fire officials remember Brookhart

BELPRE – Donald Brookhart had earned a place of respect among the volunteer firefighters in Belpre.

Brookhart, 96, passed away Tuesday at his Belpre home.

He was a charter member of the Belpre Fire Department and served for more than 60 years, retiring in 2002.

“He was well liked by everyone,” Assistant Fire Chief Donny Burch said. “He got along with everyone.”

Brookhart was the last member of the 34 Club within the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department, Burch said.

In 1934, a group of volunteers revitalized the Belpre Fire Department and served in the areas that now encompass Warren, Little Hocking, Dunham and elsewhere.

“Those guys worked really hard,” Burch said.

Brookhart was a fire instructor for a number of years and taught firefighters from all over.

“Everyone appreciated him and really looked up to him,” Burch said. “He really stood out and was a good leader.”

Brookhart always remembered the first out-of-town run he did in the mid-1930s in the department’s newly purchased 1935 Ford firetruck at the oil refineries in St. Marys, Burch said.

“That must have been a long ride for those guys back then,” Burch said.

At one point, Brookhart was honored as the oldest volunteer firefighter in the State of Ohio with certificates and other recognitions from then Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

“He was real proud of that,” Burch said.

Burch has 54 years with the department himself, but will be stepping down soon, leaving it to the young guys to handle.

“I am no Donald Brookhart,” he said with a laugh.

Current Belpre Fire Chief Bob Frank said Brookhart was on the department when he first came on.

Frank said Brookhart had the respect of his peers.

“He was a nice guy and well liked,” Frank said. “He was well trained and a good man all over.”

Flags around the City of Belpre were at half-staff Friday and today in honor of Brookhart’s service to the area.

“It is to honor his dedication and all of the years he put into it,” Burch said.

Funeral services will be held today at 11 a.m. at Leavitt Funeral Home, Belpre with Ron Laughery officiating. Burial will follow in Hopewell Cemetery in Belleville.

Memorials may be made to the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department, Washington Boulevard, Belpre.