It’s no secret the Winters Fire Department is a big, lifesaving family. Sometimes, the lifesaving is a literal family affair which was the case for Ron Clark Jr. and his father Ron Clark. Years after retirement, Ron Jr. reflects on his time as a fireman with his old man.
When Clark was just a youngster in the 80s, he and his family moved to Golden Bear in the outskirts of Winters. And one foggy Christmas Eve, the red light his family saw was not coming from Rudolph’s nose, but a fire that’d broken out on their roof.
“Our neighbor came over and told us our roof was on fire. Luckily, with the foggy conditions we were able to put out the fire ourselves. But my dad was impressed at how fast the Winters Fire Department got to our house and that inspired him to join,” Clark said, recalling about how he and his father began volunteering. “I got into the fire department because my mom was a nurse and helped a lot of people at the hospital. I figured, ‘I’m Ronald Lee Clark II, why not?’ So, I went and got my firefighting certificate from Suisun Valley College and graduated May 18, 1987.”
Clark enjoyed firefighting with his father. In a way, it was making up for lost time as Ron senior spent a lot of time working to provide for the family. His drive to help people and push his limits, however, derives from his mother’s indelible work ethic and how she battled cancer.
“Growing up, dad wasn’t there a lot because he worked a lot. But my mom was a nurse who took care of the paraplegics and quadriplegics. They depended on her to take care of them and she treated them with an ultimate respect,” Clark said explaining how she fought through cancer to keep taking care of her patients. “She worked up to two weeks before she died. That’s where I get my drive, because she worked until she couldn’t get out of bed. She endured, and that’s my drive to help others because my mom was along with the pancake breakfast. Those were some of the best times we ever had. For a while, we’d have the other departments from Esparto and Capay come and we’d have sack races and spray a barrel back and forth,” Clark explained. “It made camaraderie with the people and firefighters because they’d see us on a happy day and all the proceeds would go to the volunteers, and that’s how we’d get money for equipment.”
Clark and his father also shared a bond in their service to the country. Ron senior was a Marine sniper, and Clark a Navy man. After service to the country, then Winters for a number of years, Clark now enjoys retirement in Bend, Oregon. He’s accompanied by his wife and a pack of dogs that keep him busy all hours of the day. Although finished with his duties, Clark’s selfless tenure can serve as inspiration of what it means to serve others.