GREENVILLE — Allen Keaser retired from Greenville Township Fire and Rescue on July 4, his late brother Jeff’s birthday.
“Jeff is why I picked that day,” Allen said. “He would have been 55 this year.”
Jeff, who was also active with the township fire and rescue, was 50 when he died the morning of Oct. 31, 2014, at the Kindred Hospital in Dayton.
Recently, Allen’s family threw him a surprise retirement party.
“I’m still going to work for Arcanum Rescue to keep up my MT certification,” he said. “I retired from Greenville township because I had some knee and foot surgery and didn’t want to become a liability with the firefighters.”
He continues working at Whirlpool, where he has been employed for 27-plus years.
“I have no intentions of retiring from there,” he said. “I’m a safety tech there with a split shift. I do a lot of safety training and do medical coverage for second shift basically. My main job is safety training, such as on the tow motor. I am very blessed with Whirlpool. It’s an awesome company to work for.”
Another role Keaser played at Greenville Township Fire and Rescue was taking Rage and Rocco, two Dalmatians, to various festivals. They also retired July 4.
“Rage’s health is not the best,” Keaser said. “I still have them but they are with my daughter part of the time. Occasionally I will see special friends in Russia (Ohio) who have a special needs young adult. I met them in 2010 at the Darke County Fair. This year I went to his house and gave him some of our displays and banners.”
He said he took the two dogs to such places as the Pork Festival, Fort Loramie Festival, Rossburg Social and to birthday parties in the township.
“Poultry Days was our number one supporter,” he said. “We had a lot of good times.”
He also noted that in addition to brother, Jeff, another one of his greatest supporters is Chris Norris.
“I got into rescue because of Chris and Jeff,” he said. “Mick Maher was my first instructor, and then there was Sandy Neds and Kim Harshbarger. I can’t thank the community enough for how it supports the local EMS/fire.”
He went on, “One of the nicest things at the fire department was that I was able to work with the students at the Montessori school at the farmhouse. Anthony Fletcher became an EMT firefighter and paramedic and now works for Greenville Township full-time.”
Keaser now plans to spend time with his family, especially the grandchildren.
He and his wife, the former Cheryl Hammontree, were married Oct. 13, 2018, and they have eight children between them; five are his and three are hers. Together, they also have 20 grandchildren with one on the way and one great-grandchild.
“Cheryl and I were sweethearts from sixth grade up to our sophomore year when she moved to Ansonia,” said Allen, who graduated from Greenville in 1981.
“We drifted apart and, with God’s will, we got back together. We saw each other at Jeff’s funeral the first time in almost 30 years. We used to be neighbors and grew up together. One day, I was sitting at Fort Loramie Fall Festival with my Dalmatians at fa campfire when I got a happy birthday message from her. My birthday is Sept. 26 and hers is Oct. 3. I asked her where she was and she said she had just left Fort Loramie Campground and was almost home in Lima.”
Cheryl, a retired teacher, now works full-time for Cracker Barrel, first in Lima and now in Dayton on Miller Lane.
“God put her back in my life,” he said. “Now we’re both living God’s plan. We are involved in a lot of church activities at the EUM. EUM fell in place when Woodland Heights School, where Greenville Township used to make presentations on fire prevention. So, I started doing church cammps for kids up north in the court system. EUM asked for help at its church camp. When the door closed for fire prevention at Woodland Heights, we now do a lot of church camps. Both are good camps.”
Keaser is one of five children of Marie Keaser and the late Charles Keaser. His siblings are Terry, Susan, Darlene and Jeff.
“We siblings were able to go to Florida this year,” he said.
Now that he no longer works for Greenville Fire and Rescue, he has grown a beard. He has been Santa’s helper for years, except for last year.
“Cheryl is Mrs. Santa when she’s not working,” he said. “We tell people we were hired by the North Pole to help Santa. We both got a new outfit.”
He concluded, “I do whatever I can do for my community and fellow man. We’re here for a purpose.”