Firefighter Bob Fogle was a longtime fixture at Station 2 in Pikesville, friends said Thursday at his memorial service, and he could often be found giving impromptu instructions to less-experienced members or listening to bluegrass music on the computer.
Colleagues from the station and across the Baltimore County department came to remember the 27-year career firefighter, who died last week after suffering an apparent heart attack while training in Sparrows Point.
During the ceremony at the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company in Westminster, where Fogle volunteered for 38 years, county Fire Chief John Hohman described Fogle as "loyal" and "dedicated" to the job.
The 58-year-old died after he became ill during an exercise inside a trailer known as "the maze," where firefighters wear a breathing apparatus and must navigate through an unfamiliar area.
Outside of Fogle's memorial, a large American flag hung from two ladder trucks as firefighters passed by.
Inside, a large photo of Fogle in turnout gear and a wide smile greeted mourners as they took their seats. A table displayed his headgear, including a helmet that resembled the one worn by his favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers.
Station Captain Todd Gibney spoke of how Fogle loved the firehouse family. But the veteran's pride and joy were his wife and two children, whom Gibney said he spoke of endlessly. Gibney described Fogle as "a teacher, craftsman and jokester."
Though he could have a "rough and tough exterior" he was also known for his sense of humor, Gibney said, recalling some of Fogle's nicknames, such as "Yoda," which he said was a reference to Fogle's wizened appearance. They also called him "Bob the Builder" because of his carpentry skills.
Gibney said Fogle was known for his frugality, drawing laughs from mourners by joking that only dust came out when he opened his wallet. But Gibney added that his colleague worked hard to put his children through college and donated generously when Gibney's son took up a collection for charity.
He spoke of how Fogle spent downtime at the firehouse making various items — including a wooden railing and a cabinet for the coffee pot.
Several photos of Fogle decorated the room Thursday. Some showed him in full gear at fire and rescue scenes. Others showed his lighter side. In one photo he wore a "Duck Dynasty" bandanna and fake beard; another showed him with tissue paper in his nose and ears.
"Bob was that team leader, that consummate professional," said Stephen Wantz, president of Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company, who also served with Baltimore County before retiring. "He was a great mentor to young people."
Fogle was an instructor for multiple organizations, including the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute.
Fogle's wife and two children did not speak to the crowd but thanked everyone for all the support in a statement that was read aloud.
The service concluded with a "final call" over the radio for "Robert William Fogle III" followed by taps.
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