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Published: Monday, 7/8/2013

Azor D. Sheffield, 1918-2013

Firefighter remodeled Upper Peninsula school

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Azor D. Sheffield, a retired Toledo firefighter who remodeled an old school building in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula into a home, died Tuesday in Charlevoix, Mich. He was 95.

Mr. Sheffield had been a patient for several weeks in Boulders Parks Terrace, a rehabilitation facility. His family said he died of complications from a fall.

A 1936 graduate of Scott High School, Mr. Sheffield worked in real estate and a beer distributorship before he joined the Toledo Fire Department in 1939, following in the footsteps of his father who was a captain in the fire division.

Except for his three-year stint in the Army, Mr. Sheffield spent the next 30 years in the fire department. His assignments included old Station 23 in the Colony neighborhood and former Station 19 near Detroit and Central avenues. During his Army tenure, he was a lieutenant in the First Armored Division in the North Africa and Italy campaigns.

The decision to join the fire department continued the family legacy of public service.

Mr. Sheffield’s grandfather, James Sheffield, was an assistant chief of the Grand Rapids Fire Department.

His father, who also was named Azor Sheffield, spent 35 years with the Toledo fire division and was a member of the city’s first rescue squad in 1933.

“He enjoyed being a fireman. It does get into your blood,” said his daughter, Candace Ashley. “To me, it is the scariest thing in the world.”

Mr. Sheffield retired with the rank of captain in 1970, when he was commanding officer of the then newly built Station 5 at Washington and Ontario streets.

Mr. Sheffield played football at Scott High School. He also played drums in the school band.

He married the former Betty Seward on June 24, 1942. She died on April 3, 1996.

About a year after retiring, the Sheffields moved to Hessel, Mich., north of Marquette Island in the Upper Peninsula.

Ms. Ashley said they were drawn to the area because of the fishing and wildlife. The couple bought an old schoolhouse that had been shuttered and vandalized.

Ms. Ashley said her parents renovated the building into a unique home, using the gymnasium and stage for a living room.

“It was interesting. When they moved into it they had four toilets but, of course, no showers,” she said.

Mr. Sheffield lived in the home until about two years ago when he moved into a retirement community near Hessel.

Surviving are his daughters Candace Ashley and Pamela Null; four grandchildren; one step-grandson, and 12 great grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. today in the Ansberg-West Funeral Home, 3000 W. Sylvania Ave.

The Fireman’s Last Alarm service will be held at 7 p.m. today.

Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the funeral home.

The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Firefighters Museum, 919 Sylvania Ave.



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