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Kindred retires after a lifetime of public service

Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Not many people spend their whole life at a job they love, but Elsberrian Bob Kindred has and adds that he wouldn’t change a thing.

Being in public service all his life has always had him helping people and that is what he loves doing.

Kindred has known nothing but fire fighting since going into the Navy after graduating high school in 1969.

When he entered the military all personnel were trained on fire teams. He continued with that, so every time he moved on to a new unit he moved on as a fire team member. He even managed to get in some playing time on the Navy’s Football team.

After ten years in the Navy it was time for something new for Kindred and his family.

They moved to Elsberry and started his new career as a first responder at the Pattonville Fire Department.

Throughout the next 28 years Kindred worked hard and rose through the ranks retiring as a Battalion Chief in 2008.

Many of those years were spent in a leadership role.

One of Kindred’s proudest memories of his time in that role is that no one has ever been seriously injured under his command.

Being a fire fighter doesn’t always mean you go on fire calls. Being a part of a public service entity entitles you to never having a dull moment.

“Whatever the police department or city services doesn’t handle, then that’s when they call the fire department,” he said.

Things such as an animal stuck, non-electrical wires down or any calls no one else wants to go on.

One of Kindred’s scariest calls came in 1985 when he was at work, it was a call from Bonnie telling him their house was on fire. The drive from

Maryland Heights to Elsberry was one of the longest trips he ever had to make. The cause was deemed electric and the Kindreds lost everything. They rebuilt in the exact same place, but the most important thing was that they were all safe.

Retiring from Pattonville didn’t get Kindred out of the public service role for long.

Having lived in Elsberry all those years, the Elsberry Fire Protection District got wind and happened to be in the market for a new Training Officer, so Kindred came aboard. Not long after, Chief Bernard Bange retired, which promoted Assistant Chief Kevin Hailey to Chief and Kindred moved right on up to Assistant Chief where he has remained until now.

Effective Dec. 31 he will officially give up his position at the EFPD and many are sad to see him go.

“The fire district is losing a great fireman in Bob retiring and we wish him all the best in his retirement,” said Hailey. “He will be missed greatly at the engine house.”

Although Kindred was use to the leadership role, going from a paid department to a volunteer department there is no comparison.

He continued, “At Elsberry we face recruitment issues, and it is not just a hobby it is a commitment.”

All EFPD volunteers spend time training in the classroom and on the job. Members spend every Monday night at the fire department doing some kind of training and maintenance on the trucks and the building.

Another big difference is that working at a paid department allows you to be at about one third of the calls, but as a volunteer you go on every call.

Being a first responder in society holds a high admiration by many, but all Kindred’s admiration goes to his wife of 43 years, Bonnie.

“She is the one that should get all the credit. She raised the kids, handled the issues at home and made every holiday and party special whenever we could celebrate it.”

Many in the field know that being away from home working 24 hours shifts doesn’t always make it easy on the home front.

“Spouses have to put their faith and trust in each other if things are going to work out.”

As for Bonnie her only worry throughout all these years was for his safety. When a big call comes out, she wants to make sure he comes home or for that matter any call.

Now what to do with all the time he will have on his hand, well he will finally take care of Bonnie like she has taken care of him all these years, and you may be able to spot him on the golf course from time to time.