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Published: Friday, 5/4/2001

Truck driver was district fire chief in Northwood

Marvin L. Belknap of Northwood, a retired truck driver who was a former district fire chief for the city of Northwood, died Tuesday in his Wise Street home. He was 62.

Mr. Belknap died of complications from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, said Pat Belknap, his wife of 41 years. He had been ill for about a year.

Mrs. Belknap said her husband was recruited in the 1970s by Northwood volunteer firefighters to join the fire department. He became a volunteer for the department. He was chief of Fire Station No. 2 on Wales Road from 1977 to 1981.

William St. Claire, a retired Northwood fire chief, said Mr. Belknap operated the pumper trucks during fires and directed the maintenance and repairs of the fleet of firefighting equipment.

“He was probably one of my best engineers,” said Mr. St. Claire, who retired as chief about five years ago. He said Mr. Belknap took new firefighters under his wing, teaching them proper techniques. “He was the old-timer of the group. He took care of the new men and women. He taught them what was what,” he said.

A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., Mr. Belknap grew up near Erie, Mich. Mrs. Belknap said he attended Mason High School, but he did not graduate.

Instead, he worked in various jobs, including as a laborer on a farm in Erie Township and meat cutter in a carryout. “He worked all his life,” his wife said.

After he turned 18, he was a repairman for the former Nickel Plate Railroad. Mrs. Belknap said her husband was laid off from the railroad, sending him to production work at the Toledo Jeep plant. “But working inside did not agree with him, so he quit and went to work for a gas station,” she said.

As a gas station attendant, he made friends with the truck driver who delivered fuel to the station. The friendship led him to become a tanker driver for the former Ray Molder Carrier Corp. on Navarre Avenue, Oregon, in 1966.

He worked about 30 years for the company, which eventually was bought by Refiners Transport. The firm delivers chemicals and fuels throughout the region. Mr. Belknap retired about 1996 when the terminal in Oregon was closed.

Surviving are his wife, Pat; sons, Marvin and Timothy; daughter, Tamara Belknap; brothers, Robert and Charles; sisters Delores Harris and Nora Lee McMillen; five grandchildren; and three step-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Walbridge, where visitation will be after 2 p.m. today. A volunteer firefighter service will be at 7:30 tonight.

The family requests that any tributes be in the form of contributions to Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg Township or to the Northwood volunteer fire department station on Wales Road.



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