Stories: Who We Have Lost

Chief Rob Orkies

Story aboutRobert Orkies

We lost Chief Rob Orkies to Covid in December. He was our fire chief for well over 20 years and had nearly 10 years experience with another fire department.

Chief Orkies was a caring person, willing to give himself to helping others, which is how we believe he contracted COVID. As emergency responders, we still answer calls for service and have contact with the public in other ways. While we wear personal protective equipment, this reduces our risk but does not totally eliminate it.

As such we are treating Chief Orkies’ death as a line of duty death – one where a beloved member has given his life in service to others.

His passing is very saddening in many ways. It is an irreplaceable loss to those who loved him as well as the loss of an experienced first responder with so much left to offer people.

This time, you have to stay.

Story aboutMary Lea Brown

We hadn’t spoken in years and then suddenly she was talking to my mom again. My mom was so elated to have her sister back that she didn’t think about the fact that her sister had abandoned her for years. But I remembered. She showed up at my bridal luncheon and I was friendly, cordial and welcoming. But when she went to leave I followed her to her car and said “this time, you have to stay. You can’t come in and out of our lives like that.” She looked astonished. But she stayed, just like she promised, until she couldn’t stay any more.


Story aboutJeff Jameson

We met at a manufacturing plant in Columbia that made keychains. In those days, most everyone had long hair but Jeff had a shaved head and goatee and he looked scary. He had moved to Kentucky from the Bronx. It turned out we both loved tennis and it became our favorite pastime. He was always better than me and I only beat him a few times. Mostly though I remember sitting on a porch at his place or mine, smoking pipes, and the smell of cherry tobacco wafting overhead, discussing the politics of the day or who won Wimbledon or obscure records. Rest In Peace, brother.

3 Robins, 1980

Story aboutRobin Smith

There were so many girls named Robin in our high school class. And in my group of friends there was me, and two girls named Robin Smith. We called them Robin #1 and Robin #2. I was just “Robs.” Sometimes, #1 and #2 bullied me, or so it seemed at the time, and they were bonded by this weirdness of having the same name. Remember crank phone calls? We started getting them at my house. Endlessly. The yellow push button phone in our kitchen, next to the fridge, would ring and my mother would pick it up and there was just silence there. Soon, we stopped answering the phone because every call was a crank. It was making my mother go nuts (or nuttier) and she would drink more. Finally, my father called the phone company and got a tracer put on the line. When we found out that the calls were coming from Robin #2’s house, my mother went to talk to her mother. I was scared about how I would be treated when I returned to school the next day. Robin #1 Smith called me though and said she had heard about it and how she thought it was dumb and that she was on my side. We were better friends after that. We shared so much and I regret now, as a 55-year-old woman that we didn’t stay closer as we aged. But I will think about her, and miss her. I promise that.


Story aboutBud Evans

My father worked at GE for most of his adult life. The radio never worked in the car he drove to the plant. So, he drove with his right hand, and serenaded himself, playing a harmonica, which he held in his left hand. I hadn’t known he did this until he drove me to school one day when I was in ninth grade (we usually always walked) because I had sprained my ankle at practice. I remember being amazed as he played “Monday, Monday” as he drove – I never would have imagined my father knew who the Mommas & the Papas were, let alone that he’d play that song. Now, in my late sixties, I play “Monday, Monday” on my guitar. I’ve been re-appreciating music from my high school years. It helps me connect to that time and to my father. I did not get to say goodbye to him.

Share Your Story