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Former CS Fire Chief passes away

By Judy Reed

Mark Strpko, 63, a former Cedar Springs Fire Chief and longtime Red Flannel Keystone Kop, passed away unexpectedly last Friday, April 22. 

According to current Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser, Strpko joined the Cedar Springs Fire Department in 1982, took a leave of absence in 2002, rejoined in 2004, and retired in 2005. Several of those years were spent as Fire Chief.

“Mark was a good, fair chief, and a darn good firefighter,” remarked Fraser. He added that he was also good at teaching the other firefighters, though he (Strpko) wouldn’t think so.

“Mark was a great guy,” said Fraser. “If you didn’t learn something from Mark, you weren’t listening. He always went out of his way to make sure people understood.”

Fraser said Strpko brought a lot of knowledge and skills to the department, and was well-liked by the firefighters, and others. “He had a lot of respect for the fire department and earned respect from others, too.”

This reporter never worked with Strpko, but Post owner/publisher Lois Allen did. One of her favorite photos of him is one shown above with a billy club in his hand, at one of the early Post Easter Egg hunts. “We had a hard time keeping the parents from the crossing into the circle, so we asked the Keystone Kops help keep the parents back,” she explained. “And then I got that photo of him with his billy club.”

Allen said she also did an April Fools story on story on him when he was fire chief, telling people he was retiring from firefighting to go to Washington DC to work on a special project. “But I said he’d be back on Red Flannel Day, driving his limo and wearing his sunglasses,” she said with a laugh. 

Allen said she saw Strpko awhile back at the American Legion, and they talked about that story from long ago. “He said he liked that story so much that he had it laminated,” she recalled.

Allen said the Post also did a story on him racing speedboats. 

Fraser also commented on Strpko’s love for racing. “He loved speed. He raced cars, motorcycles, boats. If he got it started, he raced it,” he said with a chuckle.

We jokingly asked if Strpko ever raced the old Model A fire engine down Main Street. “No,” said Fraser and laughed. “It only goes about 35 mph at top speed.”

To learn more about Mark Strpko, view his obituary here. A visitation will be held on Friday, April 29th from 4pm-8pm at the Pederson Funeral Home in Rockford.

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