Firefighter recalled as 'the best'

December 04, 1997

Firefighter recalled as 'the best'


Staff Writer

Whether it was fighting fires or fixing cars, Randy Hinkle was always thinking of others before himself, family members said Wednesday.

Hinkle, 42, a Hagerstown firefighter for 24 years, died at his 844 Marshall St. home Wednesday morning after battling cancer for almost a year, said his wife, Barbara.

Even through his last message to her, he tried to prevent her from worrying, said Barbara Hinkle.

"Don't put a roof on this house 'til spring. Let your dad just patch around the chimney," wrote Randy Hinkle.

Hinkle became a volunteer firefighter for Antietam Fire Co. at 113 Summit Ave. 24 years ago, said Fire Chief Gary Hawbaker.


He continued to volunteer for administrative duties at the fire company after becoming a paid firefighter on July 4, 1979, fire officials said. Hinkle was stationed regularly at South Hagerstown Fire Co. at 409 W. First St. in the spring of 1984.

Both fire companies draped black bunting over the front of their fire halls on Wednesday in memory of Hinkle, Hawbaker said.

"Randy was a professional, whether he was doing his duties as a career driver or as a volunteer firefighter," said Antietam Capt. Jim Sprecher, 40, who was friends with Hinkle since the age of 13.

Hinkle was in charge of the recent $30,000 renovation of Antietam's fire hall, Sprecher said. He also was chairman of the company's standing committee and the August carnival at Bester Elementary School, Sprecher said.

"He epitomized the very best of the Hagerstown Fire Department," said Tom Cochrane, who served as Randy's captain at South Hagerstown until 1992.

"Randy was the type of individual who put his heart and soul into his job," Cochrane said.

It didn't matter if Hinkle was on duty when a house fire occurred in the middle of the night, his wife said. He'd still go out and help.

While in the hospital, Hinkle had asked his nephew if his 1976 Oldsmobile Omega was running, said Debbie Taylor, his sister-in-law. She said her son, Randy, 17, told him the car was fine.

But, when Hinkle got out of the hospital and saw it wasn't, he fixed it himself, Taylor said.

Hinkle graduated from North Hagerstown High School in 1973.

He also is survived by his daughter, Heather, 15; mother, Shirley Hinkle; and sister, Gayle Spoonhour.

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