On Friday, family, friends, and firefighters from several area fire departments paid their final tributes to Fire Chief Emeritus Edwin ''Sonny'' Chinowth at the Poland United Methodist Church. Chief Chinowth lost his fourth battle with cancer on Feb. 16.
Chinowth was born in 1936 and was a life-long resident of Poland. In addition to his service to his country with the U.S. Coast Guard and working for General Fireproofing for 26 years, he spent more than 50 years serving his community with the Poland Fire Department and Western Reserve Joint Fire District.
Chinowth was appointed as a firefighter when he turned 21 in 1959, was promoted to an Assistant Chief/Fire Marshal in 1967 and then Chief of Department in 1978. He was instrumental in combining the Poland Village and Poland Township fire departments into the Western Reserve Joint Fire District in 1984; the first such district of its kind in our area and one that has set the example for surrounding communities.
Photos by Jim McCreary, Town Crier
The flag draped casket of Fire Chief Emeritus Edwin 'Sonny' Chinowth is escorted from the Poland United Methodist Church for his last alarm. Members of the Western Reserve Joint Fire District performed the duties as pall bearers and the Cardinal Joint Fire District Honor Guard provided the colors.
Chinowth decided to retire from the department in 1997, turning the reins over to David ''Chip'' Comstock, Jr. As is typical of old firefighters, he couldn't just walk away and Comstock knew he would be losing many years of dedication and experience. The fire district created a new title, Chief Emeritus, which allowed Chinowth to continue serving his community. It wasn't uncommon to find Chinowth out in the district doing fire inspections and running calls. Many times he was the first firefighter on the scene, which fueled the rumor he slept in his clothes.
Chief Emeritus Chinowth was a role model and source of inspiration to new firefighters and was able to pass his knowledge along to new officers. His repeated advice to fellow firefighters and officers was ''family first, job responsibility second, and the fire department third.''
Chinowth was an active member of Poland United Methodist and enjoyed his family, traveling, camping, and his wife of 52 years, Nancy. He was blessed with a great sense of humor and was admired and respected by everyone who met him.
In addition to his beloved wife, he leaves two daughters, Lori Jackson of Cincinnati and Cheryl Livingston of Tampa; a son, Bruce of Kennewick; 12 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.