Shrewsbury Fire Chief William P. Fox is being remembered most for his lifelong dedication to serving the public.
Fox, who began his career at the Berkeley Fire Department in 1973 and served as chief of the Shrewsbury Fire Department since 1989, died from natural causes on May 30. He was 64.
"He pretty much ate, drank, slept and breathed the fire service," said Martha Heckenberg, who has been the chief's secretary for the past 16 years. "He worked so much we always had to tell him to go home."
Capt. Ken Buss, who has been named the interim fire chief, echoed that sentiment.
"He loved serving the public," Buss said. "He had a heart of gold. He would do anything for anybody, especially his firefighters."
Buss said the chief would often cover shifts for firefighters who needed time off for personal or family matters.
"He would stand in on the truck for them if they had somewhere else they needed to be, and we all greatly respected him for that," he said.
Heckenberg said the chief always made it clear how much his employees meant to him.
"He was a very compassionate man, and he cared very deeply for the people he worked with," she said. "He would never say we worked under him – we worked with him. He was very kind and caring."
Fox also had a great sense of humor.
"He could find humor in any situation," Buss said. "He loved to joke around with the guys and tell stories."
Even outside of work, Fox was dedicated to certain aspects of the job. He was a longtime board member of the St. Louis Fire Academy, St. Louis County Special Programs Committee and former secretary of IAFF Local 398 during his career. Fox also served on the board of the Burns Recovered Support Group, and was involved in the Missouri Children's Burn Camp.
"This was a cause very close to his heart," Buss said. "The camp is for children who have suffered burn injuries and he would frequently visit the camp and talk to the kids."
In the little time he wasn't working or volunteering, Buss said the chief liked to play golf and spend time with his family. He and his wife, Gail, lived in Labadie, Mo. They had two children and three grandchildren.
"His tireless service to the community and professionalism will be greatly missed by all in the Shrewsbury city family," Shrewsbury Mayor Felicity Buckley said.
Visitation was held June 2 and 3 at Manchester United Methodist Church. A memorial service and celebration of life was held June 3 at the church. Firefighter honors were provided by members of the Shrewsbury Fire Department. Memorials can be made to the Burns Recovered Support Group, brsg.org.