A college fund for the children of one of the two firefighters killed in the line of duty Jan. 26 is being set up by Allan Block, chairman of Block Communications Inc., who announced the initial contribution of $20,000 on Tuesday.
Mr. Block discussed the gift at BCI headquarters in Toledo with Toledo fire Chief Luis Santiago in response to the fire that killed Pvts. Stephen Machcinski and James Dickman, and injured three other firefighters.
He said he wanted to be sure the two young children of Private Dickman — a 3-year-old girl and an infant boy — would have help in paying for college.
“I’m particularly hurt that the two children will grow up without a father," Mr. Block said. "Our executive committee approved $20,000 — $10,000 for each. Our thought is maybe we can encourage other contributions. In 15 years, it could be a real amount that could send them to any college they want to go to.”
Mr. Block said he can sympathize with the two children because he lost his mother at a relatively early age.
"The whole community was upset and brought together in support of the firefighters like nothing I've seen in my life," Mr. Block said.
Mr. Block said BCI would arrange the creation of a trust, including professional management, to make sure it grows at a rate greater than inflation. The children and Private Dickman's widow are already guaranteed coverage of tuition at a state college or university under the benefits provided by the state. The trust could pay ancillary expenses or tuition at a private or out-of-state institution. The trust will be designed to answer other needs if they turn out to be something other than higher education.
Chief Santiago thanked Mr. Block for the gift, calling it “excellent,” and said the outpouring of community support was “truly amazing.”
“We’re lucky to have the city we have, the people we have,” Mr. Santiago said
BCI is the parent company of The Blade and Buckeye CableSystem.
Joseph H. Zerbey IV, president and general manager of The Blade, said the trust would be titled the Machcinski Educational Trust out of appreciation for the family of Mr. Machcinski, who asked that contributions be forwarded to the Dickman Family Fund at any PNC bank.
Mr. Machcinski was not married and did not have children.
A four-hour Monday night fund-raiser for the Dickman Family Fund at PizzaPapalis, 519 Monroe St., raised $10,427, said one of the downtown restaurant’s owners, Tom Stegeman.