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Cane’s retirement recalls dept.’s growth

Pat Cane awardLEABURG: Words like “Fun, challenging and sometimes a lot of work,” come to mind when Pat Cane recalls her time with  McKenzie River Fire & Rescue. Since joining the organization’s staff as a “part-time” secretary back in 1986 she’s become a familiar voice over the phone, or the face at the front desk most locals encountered first.

Behind the public view the job of administrative secretary became something she really enjoyed, saying she never found herself stuck doing the same thing and appreciated being able to help people. “Mainly what I did was support the firefighters, keep the records and pay the bills,” she said. Her work brought her in contact with a range of folks while building friendships with people “statewide, around the area and within the department.”

Back in June of ‘86, the fire department was headquartered at Walterville with about 30 personnel involved. Starting with Terry Jack, chiefs since then have included Dana Burwell, Dale Ledyard, Dana Burwell (again), and current chief Darren Bucich.

Her family’s connection goes back further than that. Pat’s father in law, Jim Cane, was one of the area residents who helped establish fire protection in the lower river area. That led to the formation of the all volunteer Thurston-Walterville Rural Fire Protection District.

“When I heard there was going to be a job,” Pat remembered, “I decided right then and there I wanted that job. It was four hours a day, four days a week.”

That schedule lasted a month, followed by 20 hours a week for three months, then 30 hours a week. She resisted going to 40 hours until her kids were out of school.

What are her plans now that she’ll have more free time?

“I’ve been a weaver for forty years so I’ll do a lot more.” She and her husband, Lyndell, plan on doing some travelling, mainly to revisit places they’d seen with their kids.

Now, she says, “We can do what we want to - stay an extra day if we want.”

Also on their agenda is a bit of home remodeling. The break from her work schedule opens up some other opportunities as well. “Now I can can in the middle of the day, instead of at night,” she said.

“We’re very proud of  the department,” Pat says. “My husband was with it before it formed and his Dad was the first chief. It’s come a long way and has been part of our lives for almost 50 years.”

Image above: McKenzie Fire & Rescue Chief Bucich presented Pat Cane with an award commemorating her 28 years of service to the department.


McKenzie River Reflections


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