Donald R. Shriner, a firefighter and paramedic who followed his father into the fire service and became a Toledo fire deputy chief, died Friday in Flower Hospital of respiratory failure. He was 88.
His health declined after he broke his hip Dec. 23, his wife, Eileen, said.
Mr. Shriner of West Toledo retired in 1977. He was named a deputy fire chief in 1972 by then-Chief Eulan Tucker.
"He was kind of a natural leader. People listened to him, and he was a take-charge guy," his daughter Ellen said. "People trusted him."
He made a point of speaking in a calm, soft voice. "People would have to quiet down to hear him," his daughter said. "He made an emotional connection -- somebody is in charge; this is going to be all right. He had these instinctive leadership qualities."
He was assigned by Chief Tucker to work on a system of life squads that was being developed, the Regional Emergency Medical Services of Northwest Ohio.
He was promoted to a district chief in 1968. One of his duties was to work on a plan to keep firefighters safe during periods of civil unrest.
His father, Budd, was a firefighter and worked largely in East Toledo. Mr. Shriner joined the fire division in 1951 and early on asked to work on the rescue squad. That was an era before life-support-equipped rigs responded to emergencies, and "he used to joke about [the rescue squad] being a station wagon with a first aid kit," his daughter said. He remained with the squad as he was promoted to lieutenant in 1960 and to captain in 1963.
One of his first rescue runs was to a boy who drowned. He and his wife had two boys at home. Yet then and after other tragedies, "he was able to talk through things and talk about things and come home and come to some sense [that] 'We did the best thing we possibly could do,'" his wife said. "He liked helping people. That was the big thing. There was plenty of opportunity for that."
He was born Nov. 22, 1922, to Margaret and Budd Shriner. He grew up on Butler Street and was a 1940 graduate of Waite High School. He attended Ohio State University on a scholarship, but after a year had to return home to earn money. He was a teller for the former Toledo Trust Co. and, in World War II, he joined the Navy. He served aboard the USS O'Brien, a destroyer, which provided cover for the D-Day landings. He was aboard as the craft later was dispatched to the Pacific Theater.
After the war, he worked in the trust department at Toledo Trust and in sales jobs, most notably at National Biscuit Co., before he took a test to become a firefighter.
"He was a person who always had personal ambition," his daughter said. "He knew he was bright, and he had leadership drive."
He took classes at the University of Toledo, and in 1967 received a bachelor's degree in fire science from Indiana Northern University.
Volunteer work filled his 33-year retirement. Trained by the IRS, Mr. Shriner for years was a volunteer tax preparer helping elderly and low-income people.
He was a former chairman of the finance committee at Blessed Sacrament Church, where he was a member. He was an organizer for the church's Habitat for Humanity group as well. He often lined up business donations and then waited on site as lumber and other supplies were delivered.
He was on the board of Volunteers of America.
"He was a man you could count on," his daughter said. "He was fun to be with. He could turn the most ordinary thing into a great story. He had great comic timing."
Surviving are his wife, Eileen, whom he married April 24, 1944; sons, Martin and David Shriner; daughters, Ellen Shriner and Margo Shriner Eagle, and eight grandchildren.
At his request, his body was donated to the University of Toledo medical school, which is the former Medical College of Ohio.
Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Blessed Sacrament Church, where visitation will begin at 10 a.m.
The family suggests tributes to the parish building fund, Little Sisters of the Poor, or Habitat for Humanity.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.