PORT CLINTON — John G. Drummer, who served the Port Clinton Volunteer Fire Department for 35 years, 17 as its chief, died Thursday at Magruder Hospital, Port Clinton, of an apparent heart attack. He was 73.
In addition to his fire department duties, he worked 44 years as an outside salesman for two automotive and marine parts firms in Port Clinton.
Mr. Drummer brought professionalism and integrity to the department and “would fight to the death for any one of his men,” said Kent Johnson, Port Clinton’s fire chief. “He always had your back.”
Mr. Drummer brought a “very calming sense” in an emergency and could bring order into a chaotic scene.
Under his command, “You took things one at a time, no matter what was thrown at you. That’s one of the greatest things I learned from him,” said Chief Johnson, whom Mr. Drummer recruited in 1979.
“He was like a dad to me,” he said.
Mr. Drummer was born in Dayton on July 21, 1940, to Charles and Civilla Drummer. His father worked for the Railway Express Agency, a job that required him to frequently uproot his family.
When John was a sophomore, the family moved to Port Clinton and decided to stay, his daughter Amy Drummer said.
He graduated from Port Clinton High School in 1959 and in 1962, he enlisted in the Air National Guard. He was stationed with the 180th Tactical Fighter Group at Toledo Express Airport, where he served six years as a jet engine mechanic.
His wife, the former Kathy Souter, said they began dating after he returned from basic training and he was a volunteer firefighter.
Their first formal date was an augur of what their 49 years together would be like.
“We were supposed to go dancing at the Cedar Point ballroom, but he got held up because of a fire at the dump,” she recalled. “We got there in time for the last dance.
“I guess I should have known,” she said chuckling.
Daughter Amy said the fire department was a way of life for the household. Amy and her sister Annie played supporting roles. “My sister and I would run water to the men or cold towels when it was a hot day,” she said.
Their mother was a department dispatcher many years. “That’s just the way it was. It was apart of our lives,” she said.
He helped develop mutual-aid pacts with Ottawa County fire departments and organized the department’s first arson investigation team, Chief Johnson said.
He served as liaison for the county fire departments during disasters, as well as training and drills for the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. He expanded the department’s fleet of equipment and added an amphibian vehicle, boats, and trained rescue divers.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy; daughters, Amy Drummer and Annie Drummer; sisters, Anna Marie Schweiterman, Ruth McAvoy, Barbara Nickloy, Doris Willert, Judy Drummer, Sue Grayson, and Paula Potterf, and brother, Eugene Drummer.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Gerner-Wolf-Walker Funeral Home & Crematory, Port Clinton, where a fireman’s memorial service will be at 7 p.m.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Port Clinton, where he was a long-time member.
Memorial are suggested to Magruder Hospital Cardiac Rehab Center or the Port Clinton Firefighters’ Association.