Honorary Dean

Each year an Honorary Dean is chosen to represent State Fire School. This person is someone who has made significant contributions to the fire service and/or State Fire School.

2015 Honorary Dean


Ralph Edward Zimmerman
Fire Chief 
1922 -2014

Ralph Zimmerman was deeply committed to community service and active in many organizations throughout his life. However, the Christiansburg Volunteer Fire Department was his true passion. 

Ralph joined the Christiansburg Volunteer Fire Department in 1951. He became Assistant Chief in 1958 and Chief of the department in 1968.  He was the longest serving chief of the department and the longest serving member, having been active for 63 of the department’s 66-year history. 

 He also was involved in county fire services lending his time and talent as one of the founding members and President of the Champaign County Fire Association and the Fire Chief’s Association.   His leadership led to the funding that secured the first ambulance units that were placed in Champaign County by the State of Ohio.

The fire service was not only important to Ralph, but to his entire family. His wife, Helen Markley Zimmerman, was a charter member of the Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary organization and worked to support local volunteers and raise funds for the fire department.  In addition, five of their sons served on the Christiansburg fire department and their son, David, is the retired fire chief of the neighboring town of St. Paris.  Both Ralph and his wife instilled in their children, by deed and action, the familiar passage by Francis of Assisi ….. “For it is in giving that we receive.”

In the spirit of generosity demonstrated by their parents, the family established the Zimmerman-Markley Community Scholarship at Bowling Green State University in 2007. The scholarship provides crucial financial support for fire and rescue volunteers for certification and ongoing professional development at State Fire School. Because the Zimmerman-Markley Community Scholarship fund is endowed, it will provide scholarships for many years to come and become part of the legacy of generosity and community service that defined this extraordinary man and his family. 

Past Honorary Deans

Marvin E. Olney            1974
Unknown                      1975
Jack Pyle                       1976
Chief Charles J. Getz     1977
Dr. Robert M. Reese     1978
Joseph R. Jones            1979

Cornelius O’Brien          1980
Chief Roy E. Ricker        1981
Edward F. Leblanc         1982
William Peterson           1983
Frank Potts                    1984
Robert L. Marihugh       1985
Harry F. Davis                1986
Louis (Bud) Sanford      1987
Edward F. Gassert        1988
Donald C. Cover            1989

Jack B. Liberator           1990
Glenn Alexander           1991
Robert J. Schwanzl       1992
Robert J. Weitzel           1993
Jack W. Rowley             1994
William Fibich               1995
Frank Parcher               1996
Terry Kirkpatrick           1997
Willis Troy                      1998
Raymond Walendzak    1999

Joyce Kepke                   2000
Skip Coleman                 2001
Robert E. Warnimont    2002
Tim L. Holman               2003
James B. Steele             2004
Dennis Lark                   2005
Herbert Martin              2006
Chris Niswander           2007
Karen Blickley               2008
Chris Herman                2009

Chief Mitchell G. Ross    2010
Chief James M. Steele    2011
Douglas C. Ott                2012
Chief Richard Monto      2013
Chief Steve Meredith     2014

Updated: 01/16/2018 03:09PM