A leader, mentor, level headed, extremely hard working and committed. These were just some of the words used to describe Rockaway Beach Fire Chief Barry Mammano at his retirement ceremony on April 6.
Amidst the packed gym that flooded Neah-Kah-Nie High School sat Mammano, who listened to others tell stories of their experiences with him, as he received numerous awards and was surrounded by family and friends.
Mammano began his career with the Rockaway Beach Fire Department in 1958, where he served as a volunteer firefighter and for the past 34 years, he has served as the Fire Chief, totaling a remarkable 61 years of service in Rockaway. At the retirement ceremony, Rockaway Beach City Councilor Sue Wilson proudly proclaimed April 6 would henceforth be known as Barry Mammano day in Rockaway Beach.
Wilson read a loud the proclamation that highlighted many of Mammano’s career and community accomplishments, such as being a life long resident of Rockaway Beach, a Neah-Kah-Nie High School graduated and a successful business owner of two Tillamook County businesses, Mammano Trucking and Tillamook Diesel.
Those in attendance listened to many speakers tell their stories and explain the type of high character fire chief Mammano was. One of the speakers was the Executive Director of the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association, Jeff Griffin.
“I’ve had the honor of knowing Barry for a long time and getting to work together with him has made me realize two things,” Griffin said. “First, there’s no greater gift that we can give to our community than fire and life saving and the second thing is that Barry embodies the spirit of the fire fighting family. It has been my pleasure to have worked with him throughout the years.”
Another speaker was Hillboro Fire Chief Mark Prince, who had worked with Mammano throughout the years and gave his salute to an astounding career serving the Rockaway Beach community.
“Chief I cannot even fathom the changes you’ve seen over your 61 years, and very few of us can,” Prince said. “Change can always bring anxiety, and you’ve endured it all. You’re truly a survivor and a man that continues to stand tall.”
One of the more emotional speeches came from Mammano’s family and his daughter Niki Sheldon, as they gifted the Rockaway Beach Fire Department with a custom plaque to say thank you for being a part of their family.
“Our family wanted to do something to say thank you to dad’s other family, his firefighting family,” Sheldon said. “The family that showed up after the terrible motorcycle crash, the family that brought meals, stopped by to visit and even picked dad up to get him out of the house while mom was rehabbing. Thank you for all you have done for him.”
At the end of the ceremony, the entire crowd took a moment to listen to the radio scanner, as the operator gave a special announcement, thanking Mammano for his 61 years of service. Mammano himself was a man of few words and the emotion of the ceremony had him even more choked up as he addressed the crowd one last time.
“I’ve had a good crew to work with and I’ve been more of a figure head, basically someone to take responsibility when everything goes to hell,” Mammano joked. “I’m not the one to take the credit for all this, but I want to thank everyone, thank you to my family and I appreciate the support of all of you here.”