Greg Frank, a former Keizer Fire District chief, Keizer First Citizen and businessman, passed away after a long battle with cancer Friday, Nov. 5.
Frank led KFD as chief for 17 years after starting as a volunteer, but he had always planned to be a police officer, he told the Keizertimes in 2007. His plans changed when he moved to Keizer and saw a department staffed with volunteers.
“How cool was that, and to ride on the back of a fire engine – what a rush,” he said.
Frank said the memories from 26 years as a firefighter in Keizer surfaced as a kaleidoscope of images from watching friends and colleagues on big fires to assisting with everyday crises like falls and on-the-spot injuries, but one in particular elicited the most details.
“The many Candy Cane Days and how excited kids (both young and old) were when we stopped to give them a candy cane,” he said.
In his parting message to the community, Frank said, “What an awesome place to call home and raise a family. Thanks for taking your time and in-vesting it in your community – the dividends abound.”
Frank opted to retire from the fire service not because he’d lost his enthusiasm, but because another opportunity came calling. Frank’s parents owned the True Value Hardware in Keizer and a second location in West Salem. As they reached their Golden Years, they hoped their son would take over the business.
Frank graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in business management and started working at the family’s hardware store in Keizer soon thereafter. At that time, it went by the name Coast to Coast.
Frank ran both stores, oversaw a change to Ace Hardware and, finally, the shuttering of the Keizer location when a conflux of economic changes forced him to make the tough decision. Numerous employees of the Keizer store transitioned to the West Salem location when it happened.
The year after his retirement, Frank was named Keizer First Citizen by the members of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce.
He said that the fire service and business weren’t all that different at the end of the day.
“You have a certain set of skills that are unique, but the way you deliver them is no different than any other service – taking care of the customer,” he said.
For almost every year after he turned 18, Frank spent Sundays taking care of some his youngest customers, Sunday school students at Dayspring Fellowship Church.
In addition to his public roles, Frank was a longtime member of the Rotary Club of Keizer – serving as president from 2010-11, a one-time board member of the Keizer Merchants Association, a member of the city’s budget committee and, eventually, returned to the Keizer Fire District to serve as an elected member of the Keizer Fire Board.