Schenectady County

Funeral for firefighter honors years of service

Charles Mowers and his wife, Dorothy, were out one day for a drive when they saw a bad fire and a fr

Charles Mowers and his wife, Dorothy, were out one day for a drive when they saw a bad fire and a friend directing traffic.

They stopped to see if help was needed. The friend replied that help was always needed by the fire department.

So Mowers signed up as a volunteer with the Beukendaal Fire Department that night, his daughter recalled Wednesday.

That was 1952, and 56 years later Mowers was still lending a hand, up until his death Saturday at the age of 87.

On Wednesday, his department and surrounding units showed their gratitude, sending him off with a funeral befitting the firefighter that he was.

“It was absolutely incredible,” daughter Carol Kiddle said. “He would have been so proud and so honored with what they did.”

The hearse, following a Beukendaal firetruck, passed his home and then the fire station, allowing him to symbolically respond to his last call. From

the firehouse, the procession passed under an American flag held up by ladder trucks and on to the funeral service at his church, St. Andrew’s, with lights and sirens.

Mowers had held every position in the department, including the years as chief in 1970 and 1971 — a stint that was before many current members were even born. He started the department’s first fire police program, which helped with traffic and crowd control at fire scenes.

In recent years, he worked the radio and responded to medical calls and attended almost every meeting.

Kiddle recalled hearing about one call a year ago, where her father directed the younger firefighters to a scene, using his half century of knowledge.

He even got his daughter and granddaughter involved in the department, Kiddle as medical director for 10 years and granddaughter Jennifer Nicholls as a firefighter.

Josh Walter, Beukendaal president and past chief, said members wanted to give Mowers the best send-off they could.

“He was a pretty quiet guy,” Walter said, “but when he had an opinion, he told you. He had a lot of experience, he’d been around for so many years.”

Kiddle recalled a list of bad fires her father responded to over the years, including a restaurant fire, a plaza fire and one where two children died.

There was also the one in 1956 where his best friend and neighbor was killed in a firetruck accident.

The fear for Mowers’ own safety was always present, Kiddle recalled, especially after a lobe of his lung was removed in the 1950s.

Despite that, doctors had always found his lung capacity to be up to the task.

“My mother still always had a fit,” Kiddle said.

Mowers worked as an engineer at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory for 37 years until his retirement.

He had been looking forward to July, when Beukendaal and neighboring department Thomas Corners will host the Hudson-Mohawk Firefighters Convention. Included in with the convention will be a parade July 12. Mowers was to be one of two grand marshals.

“Today was kind of like his parade,” his daughter said Wednesday.

Categories: Schenectady County

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