NORTH STAR — Mike Groff has retired from the North Star Fire Department with 30 years of service.
He feels like it’s time, as four new young men have come on the department.
“I can’t crawl around on concrete anymore,” Groff said.
However, he is proud to have served the department and having followed in his Grandfather Paul Groff’s footsteps on the fire department. Also, like his grandfather, he also served as the fire department’s treasurer and did so for 16 years.
Yes, it was his grandfather and also Mike Roll who got him interested in serving on the fire department.
“Four of us were sitting at George’s General Store one day and we all joined after talking to Mike,” Groff said. “I went on in 1986. I did TNI training at the Greenville Fire Station.”
His most memorable fire, he said, was when his grandfather’s house “across from the Dairy Queen” [in North Star] burned.
“He didn’t own it anymore but I remember all of the Christmases and holidays we spent there,” he said. “And, the Paul Meyer barn fire was a big one.”
Groff, who was never injured in a fire, recalls some of the other scenes he was on, such as when the semi went through Trix Alexander’s house, killing him.
“I went to multiple accidents, some fatalities, and a motorcycle crash on [U.S.] 127,” he said.
One of seven children of Ron and Kay Groff, he grew up in North Star and is the only one in his immediate family who went into firefighting.
He is married to the former Patty Niekamp, whose brother Doug and cousins Dan and Jeff joined the fire department at the same time as he did.
“If the four of us would have said we were not going to do it, I probably wouldn’t have,” he said.
The Groffs have been married 25 years. They were high school sweethearts. He graduated from Versailles High School in 1985 and she in 1987. They are the parents of two sons, Jordan, 21, and Alex, 17.
He said he doubts his sons will get involved with firefighting.
In the 30 years he served as firefighter, Groff has seen some changes.
“There have been equipment upgrades and a new firehouse,” he said. “It’s amazing how big it [the firehouse] is with the help of the community.”
During the annual North Star Picnic, which the fire department and American Legion co-sponsor, Groff has helped out and will continue to do so.
He also has been with Clopay Manufacturing for 30 years and is working in Russia, Ohio, on the wood line. Wife Patty works at Crown in New Bremen.
In his spare time, he bowls on a league Thursday nights in Versailles and enjoys going camping
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4315.