Chuck’s final call
Chuck’s final call
By Mike Van Sickle
With a line of fire trucks from across Fayette County leading the way, it was a fitting tribute to hear the noon siren echo across West Union on Tuesday, May 21, as the funeral procession took longtime fire chief Charles “Chuck” Broghammer to his final resting place at Mount Calvary Cemetery.
Following the May 21 Funeral Mass, friends and family gathered outside Holy Name Catholic Church as past and present West Union firemen serving as pallbearers and honorary pallbearers gently hoisted their former leader onto a West Union fire truck for his final ride.
“Chuck was not only very dedicated to the West Union Fire Department, but the entire city,” Fire Chief Roger Gamm later stated. “He was always looking out for the betterment and well-being of the fire department and the community.
“I enjoyed working with him over the years. He was a good leader, mentor and educator to all firemen he worked with,” he added. “He was always proactive in education and training. He helped bring this fire department up to its current level of expertise. Each of us appreciates what he did to make this department better.”
“I served alongside Chuck for 37 years. He was a very dedicated fireman who knew what he was doing,” added former mayor and retired fireman Merlin Dunt. “He was a great individual. You had to know him to truly appreciate everything about him. He will be sadly missed.”
Chuck joined the West Union Fire Department in 1953 under the tutelage of then Fire Chief L.T. (Speed) Phillips and Assistant Chief Pete Stahr. Mick Roach and Jim Dessel also joined the department at the same time.
During his 52 years of service to the local fire department, Chuck received the Governor’s Firefighter of the Year Award, Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Service by Volunteer Fire Fighters, Roger Mooty Award by the Fire Chiefs of Iowa, and was named West Union Citizen of the Year.
In addition to serving as a volunteer fireman, Chuck was a charter member of the local Knights of Columbus. He also volunteered his time with the West Union Variance Board, Planning and Zoning Commission, Mount Calvary Cemetery, and Emergency Management Board.
“They’re (firemen) just like everyone that enjoys helping his neighbor and fellow man,” Chuck stated shortly after announcing his retirement. “It’s not because of any monetary gain. It’s because of the personal satisfaction you get in possibly making a difference in someone’s life.”
As many will attest, Chuck dedicated himself to family, friends, fellow firefighters, and an entire community over the years.
“As was often said about Chuck, he had a gruff exterior but he would do anything for anybody,” said West Union Mayor Kent Halverson, who lead a moment of silence in the former fire chief’s honor during the May 20 City Council meeting. “He is certainly going to be one of those guys that is going to be missed by everyone who knew him.
“A longtime resident of West Union, he supported everything going on in this community over the years,” Halverson added. “Most recently, he could be seen downtown on a lot of days keeping an eye on the Streetscape Project. This entire town is going to miss him.”