MARSHALL - In his time as Marshall fire chief, David Marks made a lasting impact on his local community. But at the same time, he was also the kind of person who made you smile, said current Fire Chief Marc Klaith. A combination of drive and willingness to help others will be something Marks is remembered for, local residents said this week.
"He was a unique individual. I think he cared more about other people than he did for himself," Klaith said.
Marks died Monday at the age of 65. He served with the Marshall Fire Department for more than 25 years, and was fire chief from 1989 to 2000.
"When it came to fire service in Marshall and in the surrounding area, that was his passion," said Klaith. Klaith worked with Marks as both a rookie fireman and later on as an assistant chief.
"I think he taught me a lot of things," Klaith said - including the Marshall Fire Department's connection to surrounding communities. "'It's about helping everyone else. Never forget that,' he told me."
Marks' passion for the fire department and helping others took many forms, Klaith said - from founding the Lyon County Mutual Aid Association, to restoring a 1916 Pierce Arrow turned fire truck, and teaching younger generations of firefighters how to run it. He was also a member of the Minnesota State Fire Chief Association from 1974 to 2001, and served on the board of the West Central Firefighters Association.
"Dave was really an important part of the community and the fire department," said Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes. Marks helped build the first operations base for the Marshall Ambulance service. He also played a big role in developing the concept of the MERIT Center in Marshall as a regional training center for emergency responders.
"Before anything was planned, he had a vision of what it could be," Byrnes said. Marks went to the state Legislature to advocate for the MERIT Center, and worked to raise funding for it, he said.
While Marks could be driven, he was also personable.
"Dave always had a good sense of humor about him, too," Byrnes said.
"He had a grin on his face most of the time," Klaith said.
"It's a loss for the community," Byrnes said of Marks' passing. "But the community is a better place for having him."
Funeral services for Marks will be today at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Marshall.