Dan Gregory remembers how much help he needed when he built his Nikiski home in 1984 and 1985.
"A bunch of the guys showed up and we started putting up logs," he said.
Gregory, chief of the Nikiski Fire Department, acknowledges there are too many memories to recall throughout his career and adult life spent in the community.
After spending 30 and a half years in a variety of positions at the department, Gregory will walk out the door today, retired.
"It's been really great," Gregory said from behind his desk in an interview, sipping a cup of coffee.
He said he is really going to miss working with people who he says are a family and always there for each other.
"Sometimes we're a little bit of a dysfunctional family but a family nonetheless," he said, adding that they always care for each other.
A Midwestern child from small-town Wisconsin, Gregory never planned to become a firefighter or an Alaskan. Military service changed that.
In the Army, he operated artillery when he was transferred to Fort Richardson in Anchorage.
Gregory said they needed firefighters in the Army, so he signed up. This seemed like a career that would transfer well to civilian life, he said.
After marrying Marla, an Alaskan, and having a child, Nikiski has become more than a job for him it is his life.
"I can't think of any better place to raise a family," he said.
Gregory said he is going to use retirement to pursue some new goals. Many of these goals surround his life in the community. He serves as chair of the Fire Department Safety Officers Association. This organization trains people to be safety officers to protect firefighters on the job.
Citing on-the-job safety as important, he said he will continue to be involved in this organization.
He said a friend has a construction business that he will help with over the summer. Gregory said he is looking to start working in a new field, but is not quite sure what yet.
"I like to work," he said.
Gregory said he is not sure how he is going to feel when he walks out the door today, his last day.
"Once Tuesday gets here, it'll be good," he said.
His co-workers said he will be missed.
"I can count on him. He does what he says," said Teri Carter, administrative assistant at the Nikiski Fire Department.
Having worked with him since 1989, there is another attribute Carter said she will miss during her daily work: "He has high integrity."
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.