David Leroy Smeak Sr., a longtime firefighter in Baltimore County, died of liver cancer June 16 at his home in Taneytown. He was 76.
Though born in Union Mills, Mr. Smeak lived nearly all his life in Taneytown, said his wife of 58 years, Helen Elizabeth Smeak. He was one of four children, and his father worked at the Koontz Creamery in Westminster.
Mr. Smeak met his wife at a dance at a roller skating rink. She was 16, he was 17, and it was love at first sight, she said. They married April 16, 1949.
After his wedding, Mr. Smeak went to work as a baker at Baumgardner's Bakery in Taneytown. He also was a member of Taneytown's volunteer fire company and, in the early 1960s, decided to try his hand at being a firefighter full time in Baltimore County.
For a man who liked to constantly be on the move, it was a tough adjustment at first. "When they didn't have fires, you had to just sit there," Mrs. Smeak said.
But he ultimately found his career to be rewarding. "He liked helping people to try to save their homes or businesses," his wife said. "He liked all the guys he worked with."
During his nearly three decades with the Baltimore County Fire Department, Mr. Smeak also worked part time as a meat wrapper for Super Thrift in Taneytown. He held that job for 20 years, part of that time after his retirement from the Fire Department.
He was a life member and past chief of the Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company and an honorary member of the Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Company.
Mr. Smeak belonged to Messiah United Methodist Church in Taneytown, the International Association of Firefighters, the Gettysburg (Pa.) Loyal Order of Moose and the Littlestown (Pa.) Fraternal Order of Eagles.
In recent months, even as his health declined, Mr. Smeak tried to help his wife get around after she injured her foot and needed to walk with a cane. "He was always there for me," she said.
Services have been held.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Smeak is survived by a son, David Leroy Smeak Jr. of Taneytown; two daughters, Brenda Hyman of Taneytown and Debbie Bankert of Mount Airy; two brothers, Harvey Smeak of Abbottstown, Pa., and William Smeak of Littlestown; a sister, Chairmaine Klunk of McSherrystown, Pa.; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.