Hastings/BIRCH Fire Chief Roger Caris passed away Wednesday morning, April 19th after suffering a cardiac arrest. Roger served on the Hastings Fire Department for 49 years becoming the Chief in 1981. He loved his family, serving the community and training firefighters across the State.
Mayor Dave Tossava states, “It is a very sad day in the City of Hastings. Roger Caris was an exceptional person, a dedicated firefighter, the type of person that always put his community and its citizens first. I have had the pleasure of working with Roger throughout his career with the City. I would stop at the Fire station and talk to Roger hours at a time. I will miss our conversations, I considered Roger an advisor and a great friend.”
Roger not only served our local community. He was responsible for the many firefighters to take the state written and practical test for over 15 years as the Region Training Coordinator for the Bureau of Fire Service.
Roger Caris also served for 26 years on the Board of Directors at Thornapple Credit Union. Amy Byers, President of TCU says, “We appreciate all the knowledge, guidance, and friendship shared with us.” In his honor, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will be served at their next meeting.
His family generously shared Roger with the entire community. Son in Law Jim followed him into the Fire Service. Known to the grandkids as Grandpa Chief, they loved spending time at the Fire Station sharing a “Fire Department Sprite.” Grandson Adam Sheldon shares,” I'm just so thankful for the dedicated time he would turn off his phone, wrap his hands over mine on my club, teach me an awesome swing and say, 'see that - now go do it, you won't need me for that much longer - you've got it.' He did that for a lot of us.”
Roger and his family moved to Hastings in 1974 as the new owner of Western Auto. He continued in this business until becoming full time on the Fire Department.
Roger is survived by his children, Kenny Caris, McKenna Caris , Roger (Missie) Jr, Paul (Katie) Skinner, Teresa (Jim) Sheldon, Sue (Ed) McKeough and Bill Skinner, 11 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandchildren and special nephew James Avery.