STANTON – A rainy Wednesday gave way to a clear and pleasant evening, just in time to honor a longtime Montcalm County commissioner and emergency rescue advocate.
Montcalm County Emergency Services employees gathered at the Stanton base for a dedication ceremony for the late Carl Paepke, along with Paepke’s two daughters, Priscilla Heimbecker and Jeanne Poulsen, both of Trufant.
Paepke died at his Pierson home on April 18, 2012, after fighting lung cancer. He was 86 years old and still in office on the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners.
“The clouds parted, the sun came out, it got really nice … I’m pretty sure Carl had something to do with that, so thanks Carl,” Emergency Services Deputy Director Eric Smith observed with a smile.
Emergency Services employees previously requested and were granted permission from the Board of Commissioners last year to plant five trees on property at the Stanton base as a living memorial to Paepke. Emergency Services employees funded the cost of the trees – one ornamental pear and three maple – which were planted by Higbee Landscape of Six Lakes.
Paepke was instrumental in getting a rescue vehicle established in his home town of Pierson. On Wednesday, the Rescue 27 vehicle was dedicated in Paepke’s name, along with a rendering of Paepke’s face on the side of the truck.
Emergency Services Supervisor Brandon Mulnix recalled how Paepke would regularly stop in at the Stanton base just to check in with everyone.
“You would never know when Mr. Paepke was going to show up and say, ‘how are you, are you having a good day?’” Mulnix remembered.
“He was so invested in us and our organization growing to what it is today,” Smith added. “Carl is gone, but his legacy will live on.”
Paepke’s daughters recalled their father as a man who saw life in terms of black and white – no gray – but was very loving. The women remembered him as someone who loved nature, his produce stand and making the county a better place.
“My dad always planted trees,” Poulsen said. “He was a tree man.”
“My dad was so proud of the EMS,” Heimbecker said. “He was always striving to make it the best.
“He’d love this, he’d absolutely love this,” she added of Wednesday’s ceremony.
Wednesday’s event coincided with the annual National Emergency Medical Services Week.