June 5, 1951 – Jan. 29, 2020
In his first encounter with an ambulance, Dennis C. Shira made news.
“We came across an article, ‘Boy, 6, Struck by Car,’ ” his wife Mary said. “It was Dennis. He was transported to the hospital in an ambulance.”
Ambulances became the focus of his life.
He began working for Niagara Ambulance while he was still in high school. He owned and operated an ambulance company in Niagara Falls with two partners. As a hobby, he restored several old ambulances.
Mr. Shira died unexpectedly Jan. 29 in his home in Youngstown. He was 68.
Born in Niagara Falls, he was a 1969 graduate of Trott Vocational High School, where he studied appliance servicing.
He was a member of the state’s first graduating class of 1,000 emergency medical technicians and was in one of the first graduating classes of paramedics in Western New York.
Mr. Shira started his own company – Professional and Emergency Ambulance – with partners Gary Archie and Tom Beaver and they operated it for more than 18 years before selling it to another ambulance service.
He then went on to work as a long-distance auto hauler in the Northeast and Midwest, driving auto transport trucks for Anchor Motor Freight, Leaseway and Cassens Transport Co.
He retired in 2013.
Active with the Youngstown Volunteer Fire Company, he was a first lieutenant in the fire police and offered advice on its ambulance and emergency medical service. He was medical supervisor for the Buffalo-Niagara Martial Arts Championship at Niagara University for more than 30 years.
He volunteered to assist at Boy Scout Camp Stonehaven in Ransomville and was active in the Professional Car Society, an organization of hearse, ambulance and limousine enthusiasts.
His prize possession was the Cadillac ambulance he had used in his ambulance service. It carried him Wednesday morning to the Mass of Christian Burial offered for him in St. Bernard Catholic Church, Youngstown.
Survivors include his wife of 30 years, the former Mary Gabrielli; two daughters, Janelle Voelker and Kyle-Lynn Ross; a son, Michael Smith; a sister, Linda Malinowski; and 11 grandchildren.