Gone but not forgotten

Grafton firefighters go out of their way to honor late Waubeka assistant chief

MEMBERS OF THE WAUBEKA and Grafton fire departments stood together as Grafton Fire Chief Bill Rice (right) presented a plaque in memory of Bruce Koehler to Waubeka Fire Chief Jason Caswell. Koehler was the Waubeka department’s assistant chief when he was killed in a motorcycle crash last November. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

The legacy of former Waubeka Assistant Fire Chief Bruce Koehler, who was killed in a motorcycle crash last November, went beyond the northern Ozaukee County hamlet.

And members of the Grafton Fire Department don’t want anyone to forget it.

Last week, more than a dozen Grafton firefighters presented a plaque to Waubeka Fire Chief Jason Caswell and other Waubeka firefighters as a tribute to Koehler.

“His death was a huge loss to the county and to us personally,” Grafton Fire Chief Bill Rice said.

Besides being a member of the Waubeka Fire Department for 35 years, Koehler was a hazardous material team leader, a rescue boat crew member for Ozaukee County Emergency Management, president of MABAS Division 119, a member of the Southeast Wisconsin Incident Management Team, an adviser for the Random Lake Area District Explorers Program and a member of the Ozaukee County and the Wisconsin State Fire Chief’s Associations and the Badger Firefighters Association.

“We felt there should be something to let people know we remember and appreciate him so we got a plaque with his picture and some comments of appreciation from us,” Rice said.

The plaque presentation was on the same night as the Waubeka department meeting so the Grafton firefighters also brought dinner with them in the form of sub sandwiches.

“There was a nice turnout, so we had dinner together and had a good time,” Rice said.

Waubeka Fire Chief Jason Caswell called the visit a “happy surprise.”

“We weren’t expecting something like that. It showed us that people are still thinking about him and he’s not forgotten,” Caswell said.

“It means a lot that they would go out of their way to extend that kindness.”

Koehler, who was 53, was killed shortly after leaving a fish fry fundraiser for the Fillmore Fire Department when the motorcycle he was driving struck a deer on Friday, Nov. 2, on Highway H in the Town of Farmington.   

Alcohol and speed were not factors in the crash, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department said. 

Some of the same Fillmore firefighters Koehler had just come from supporting responded to the scene, along with Newburg Rescue members, Washington County Sheriff’s deputies and West Bend Fire Department paramedics. 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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