Roger Frisbie joined the Cherokee Volunteer Fire Department at 25 years of age, on March 26, 1956 - fifty years ago this month - and is still an active member, with no plans to retire. He figures he'll be a member of the department "until they kick me off." That seems unlikely, as volunteers with his dedication are hard to come by. The city of Cherokee is 150 years old, and Roger Frisbie has been a volunteer fireman for one-third of its existence.
The Department appreciates Frisbie's loyalty and service, and presented him with a plaque - with a bronze fireman's ax attached to it - at the department's Awards Banquet in January of this year. Fifty years at anything is truly amazing, but it really shouldn't come as a surprise in Frisbie's case. He has been married to his wife , Marjorie , a former elementary school teacher, for fifty years ("fifty-one next June") , and he worked for Iowa Electric Light and Power for 44 1/2 years, before retiring on January 1, 1995. Frisbie has also been the treasurer of the Fire Department since 1965 - "only" forty years. So, I guess once he sets his mind on something or somebody he likes, Roger Frisbie sticks with it.
The Frisbies have one daughter, Lori (Mrs. Robert) Mohr. She and her family live in De Witt, Iowa, way over on the eastern edge of the state. Lori and Robert have three children - a son, Mitchell, 14, and daughters Megan, 11, and Alex , 6.
Visiting his daughter and grandchildren, or taking them on a summer vacation, is Frisble's chief "hobby," though he considers the time he spends at the Fire Station kind of a hobby, too.
Frisbie says he has seen an "awful lot of change" in his fifty years in the department. The department has much better equipment now. When he joined the department, Frisbie said they had just two fire trucks. Now they have four fire engines, a pumper, a tanker, and an equipment van.
He also said that the fire truck used to head to the corner of Main Street and Highway 59, wait a short while, and expect the firemen to come from their downtown locations and jump on. A special bell was rigged up on the firemen's phones to signal them that there was a fire. Now, of course, they have a pager system, and the entire operation is much more "high tech" than it used to be.
Frisbie and his fellow firefighters worked out of the old Fire Station on Maple Street, where the new city library now stands, until the current station was built in 1979.
In his fifty years in the department, Frisbie said he's "seen it all" , from getting a private plane out of a tree (true- I saw the pictures!) to a more standard removal of animals from trees.
Frisbie recalled a bad fire at the former Webster School many years ago as one of the worst he had encountered, and is proud of the fact that the Cherokee Department has only suffered three fatalities in his fifty years.
Roger Frisbie - someone we can all count on. Thanks, Roger.