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Ricky D. McHenry, fire battalion chief
March 8, 1953 -- Feb. 24, 2006

NEWFANE -- Ricky D. McHenry of Newfane, Niagara Falls Fire Department battalion chief who received his department's highest honor for rescuing six people trapped in a burning hotel in 1986, died Friday at home after a battle with cancer. He was 52.

Born in Niagara Falls, he attended schools in Niagara Falls and Wilson, where his family moved when he was a child. He had lived in Newfane the last several years.

He served in the U.S. Navy before he was appointed in 1978 to the Niagara Falls Fire Department. He was promoted to fire captain in 1993 and to battalion chief in January 2003.

In 1986, he was recognized for his act of heroism with the department's highest honor, the Levy Brothers Memorial Award, for rescuing six people trapped by fire in a Niagara Street hotel.

On two other occasions, he was recognized with commendations for rescues performed in both the Niagara River Gorge and the rapids above the falls. He was designated as his department's Municipal Training Officer, as well.

Chief McHenry was devoted to helping others on his personal time, through his commitment to the Wilson Fire Company. He was a member and past president of the Niagara County Fire Chiefs Association. He was one of the first formal instructors of Smoke Divers, a Niagara County fire training program.

He was a member of the New York State Professional Firefighters Association, the International Association of Firefighters, the Niagara Falls Fire Fighters Christmas Toy Fund Committee and was a career-long contributor to the United Way.

He was an avid outdoorsman and environmentalist. An outstanding golfer, he was a member of the Willowbrook Golf Course.

Survivors include his wife of 20 years, the former Barbara Bascom; a son, Ricky, and a daughter, Angela Talbert, both of Lockport; three brothers, Jim of Tennessee, Mike of Wilson and Steve of Virginia; a sister, Bessie Kneeland of Florida; and three grandchildren.

Services will be held 10 a.m. Wednesday in Christ Episcopal Church, Rochester Road (Route 31), Town of Lockport. Burial will be in Corwin Cemetery, Newfane.


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