Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Fesmire remembered for heart, dedication

LUCERNE – Just before 10 a.m. Tuesday Supervisor Rob Brown presented a proclamation to the family of Northshore Fire Captain David Fesmire, thanking him for his service to the county. {sidebar id=33}


Fesmire, suffering from terminal cancer, was unable to make the event, said Brown. He read the proclamation that honored the 55-year-old Vietnam veteran to a standing-room-only audience.


Fire chiefs and officials from around the county lined the back of the room; others in attendance included Fesmire's friends from the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951.


Minutes later, Brown walked out into the courthouse lobby to greet a room filled with teary-eyed people. It was then he discovered Fesmire had died just minutes before the proclamation's presentation.


Shortly before noon, flags at fire stations around Lake County were lowered to half-staff in Fesmire's honor, and will remain at half-staff until the close of business Friday, according to Northshore Fire District officials.


Fesmire, a native of Carmichael, served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1973, according to the county's proclamation.


A veteran of two tours in Vietnam, Fesmire was a helicopter crew chief gunner for the Troop C (Air) 16th Cavalry. In that capacity, he earned two Bronze Stars, received the Purple Heart and numerous other honors including 34 Air Medals for combat flight time and one for valor.


Back in the states, Fesmire was in the California National Guard from 1976 to 1980, serving in the 126th Helicopter Company Air Ambulance. He also volunteered at the Rio Linda Fire Department, according to his friend and boss, Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins.


Robbins said Fesmire came to Lake County in 1987 as the supervisor for Redwood Empire Life Support. Two years later he joined the Lucerne Fire Department as a volunteer.


“He was a very, very dedicated volunteer all through the years,” said Robbins.


Fesmire didn't join the fire department as a full-time employee right away, said Robbins. “I had been trying to lure him into coming to work for me for several years.”


Eventually, Robbins got his man. Fesmire came to work as captain/paramedic with Lucerne Fire – later to be consolidated into Northshore Fire District.


On Tuesday Robbins, saddened by his friend's death, could still remember the exact day Fesmire joined the department – Nov. 3, 2002.


“Fezzy” – as he was known to his friends and colleagues – could be a little gruff with the new volunteers, Robbins remembered, likely due to his time in the service.


But Fesmire was ultimately a generous man with a heart of gold, Robbins said, giving countless hours to the department, hours that came at the expense of personal time with his family and other interests, like motorcycle riding. Robbins said Fesmire had an old Harley Davidson motorcycle in his shop that he never quite got around to rebuilding.


Ginny Craven, who for 14 years was a volunteer with Lucerne Fire, said she got to know Fesmire well over the years, running medical and fire calls with him.


Besides seeing him save strangers, Craven said Fesmire's skills as a paramedic saved her mother, who he resuscitated during a medical call in 1991.


Less than a month ago, Fesmire began suffering flu-like symptoms, said Robbins. At the same time, Fesmire's kidneys began to shut down.


Fesmire sought medical treatment for kidney failure, and after running other tests doctors discovered he had a large tumor on the vena cava, the body's second largest vein, said Robbins.


“He wanted me to be one of the first to know what was going on,” said Robbins, who explained that the prognosis hadn't given Fesmire much time.


Fesmire's attitude, said Robbins, was one of trying to get as much life out of his remaining days as possible.


On Saturday, Nov. 17, Fesmire's friends celebrated him at “Fezzy Fest,” held at the Lucerne Firehouse.


“It was wonderful,” said Robbins. “We had close to 300 people here, and they came from all different walks of life.”


Fesmire's friends included other Vietnam vets, motorcycle enthusiasts and, of course, firefighters, said Robbins.


“It put a big smile on his face, and that kind of helped some of us heal a little bit,” said Robbins.


Craven added that the event gave her an even greater sense of the many dimension's of Fesmire's life and impact on others.


One of Fezzy Fest's big surprises, said Craven, came from his friend Rod Harper, owner of The Hog Pen in Nice.


Harper had gone over to Fesmire's place and pulled out that old Harley he never got around to fixing, and rebuilt it for him. Robbins said Harper also read a poem for his friend that “knocked everybody's socks off.”


Harper couldn't be reached for a comment on his friend for this article.


On Sunday, Fesmire took the bike out for a ride, said Robbins.


Along with his many friends and colleagues, Fesmire leaves behind wife, Karen; daughters, Kendra, Katie and Michelle; and granddaughter, Danielle.


Memorial services haven't yet been announced, said Robbins. “Knowing Dave, he's got everything planned out.”


Robbins said he's giving the family space to grieve before finding out what they have planned. He said announcement about services will follow shortly.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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