Byron Mi. – Byron Firefighter Dies Fighting A Fire. It was April 1977; the State was in near drought conditions and fires were raging all over the State including Shiawassee County. On April 10, 1977 firefighters fought 6 fires in Shiawassee County alone. Four were grass fires, one a structure fire and another was racing through wet lands.
Shiawassee County has lost three firefighters, Fred Ross who was killed on April 1, 1900, fighting a fire at the Old Central School in Owosso, Elmer Hodge that died fighting a fire on the corner of N. Park St and E. Main St., January 12, 1981, and Byron Firefighter Roger Wenk that died on April 10, 1977 fighting a grass fire.
Former Byron Village President and Byron Councilman, Roger Wenk, 56, responded to a grass fire on Byron Rd. one-half a mile north of Lovejoy Road.
It is reported that he had experienced some heart problems. According to the Sheriff’s Office report, Wenk had just run from the fire to the firetruck for water tanks and then had run back to the fire. While Wenk was pumping air into the tanks he fell over. Firefighter Raymond Tower gave Wenk mouth to mouth resuscitation. According to the report it was in vain and Wenk was DOA when he arrived at Memorial Healthcare in Owosso.
Wenk was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader. Wenk had served 8 years as the Byron Village President and six years on the council.
Mr. Wenk’s obituary states that Wenk was born on Sept. 20, 1920, lived most of his life in Byron, had married Marjorie Koch on September 1, 1945, in Durand.
Mr. Wenk was survived by his wife and two adult children.
The funeral was held on April 13, 1977, at the Small & Streeter Funeral Home in Byron. Interment was in Hillcrest Owosso.
Wenk had worked in the quality control department for Simplicity Engineering in Durand.
Wenk had served as the President of Michigan Conservation Club and was the past President and Secretary-Treasurer of the Durand Sportsman Club.
Mr. Wenk and the other fallen firefighters will be honored with Shiawassee County Firefighters Memorial that will be built possibly in 2019 or 2020.
The center piece of the memorial will be the 1921 LaFrance Fire Truck.
Story: Tom Manke
Photo: Area where Mr. Wenk died, somewhere in the middle area of the google map.
The Fire Truck