RIVERSIDE — The Southside Fire Company, community members, and representatives from fire departments throughout the Valley and surrounding region will gathering today to remember and honor the life of longtime firefighter, and former company chief Nick Fowler, 60, who died Dec. 31.
Fowler's funeral is set for 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church, 12 Brookside Dr., Danville.
After the funeral, a procession will leave First Baptist Church onto Route 642, Route 54 and through the tunnel ending at Southside Fire Company.
Longtime friend and associate "Butch" Kriner, who is now police chief in Northumberland Borough, joined the Southside Fire Company in 1998 when a bond was formed between he and Fowler, Kriner said on Tuesday.
"Nick came from a family of firefighters," Kriner said. "His dad was involved, his grandfather and his uncle. Daughter Sarah is a lieutenant at Southside."
There are family members now, who live out-of-state and are members of Southside, Kriner said. "They're just not active."
Nick Fowler has been chief, deputy chief and assistant chief at Southside Fire Company. Fowler joined the Southside Fire Company in 1984.
His term as company president expired on Dec. 31, the day he died, Kriner said.
You might say firefighting was part of Nick Fowler's DNA, Kriner added. "It was like being in the Southside was part of his genetic makeup. For the Fowler family, being a member of Southside was a family affair."
"Nick, who lived in Riverside, got started in the fire company because of his dad," said Riverside Councilwoman Barb Kriner, vice-chair. "He used to go there with his dad."
"Fowler was absolutely committed to the Southside Fire company," Butch Kriner explained. "It was his life, for lack of a better term. He was president of the company since 2005."
Butch Kriner was alongside Fowler in several roles, he recalled. "I was his deputy chief, then he was my deputy chief." Kriner said they worked together, "taking over running the place in 2005."
As a co-worker, Kriner said, Fowler was "very even-keeled, even-tempered and soft-spoken. A nice man. A good leader."
At Monday night's Riverside Borough meeting, several council members expressed great admiration for Fowler.
He was a respected member of our community and will be greatly missed, said Riverside council member Beth Rake, "a pillar in our community."
On behalf of the council, Barb Kriner, who is Butch Kriner's wife and a Riverside council member, said, "Nick was a very dedicated man, dedicated to the fire company and spent endless hours serving his community and volunteering. He'd do the day-to-day things that kept the fire company running."
When you are in the fire service, explained Montour Commissioner Trevor Finn on Tuesday, "you develop relationships with other members of the fire service. And so it was with Nick Fowler. When someone like him passes, it is painful to see.
"He was very dedicated to Southside," Finn said. "Yes, firefighting was part of his DNA. I think that's the way it works."