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Visitation
Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Hoening & Son Funeral Home
West Tiffin Street
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Visitation
Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Hoening & Son Funeral Home
West Tiffin Street
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Rosary
Friday, Jan. 17, 2020
10:00 AM
St. Wendelin Church
Fostoria, OH
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Funeral service
Friday, Jan. 17, 2020
10:30 AM
St. Wendelin Church
Fostoria, OH
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Bernard C. Conine


1931 - 2020
Bernard C. Conine Obituary
(News story) FOSTORIA - Bernard C. Conine, a 30-year Fostoria firefighter who, as chief, led efforts to replace the city's century-old fire station and modernize the department, died Saturday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 88.

His kidneys failed, his son, William Conine, said. The chief several years ago moved from Fostoria to his son's farm in Seneca County's Jackson Township.

Chief Conine retired in 1984. Not long after he became chief in 1973, he and an architect traveled the state to inspect fire stations to see how they were laid out.

"He was really organized. He knew what didn't work at the old station," his son said. "He talked to different chiefs and the firemen - 'What do you like about your station?' He did his research."

The department moved from its old quarters on West North Street and the new station on West South Street was dedicated June 22, 1975.

"He had a vision for the future," current Chief Brian Herbert said. "He designed the fire station we are currently in. It's as functional today as it was then, which is rare for a 45-year-old station."

Russ Rife, Fostoria fire chief from 1996-2008, had taken a civil service test in Fostoria and another city. Without a background in the fire service, he asked those who did. Those veterans said, "'If you have an opportunity to work for Chief Conine, you have to go work for him.'" Chief Conine hired him in 1983.

"He was a progressive leader," Chief Rife said. "The best way to describe him - he was steady at the helm. He was calm, but had an eye on the future of the fire service."

The new fire station had a generator fueled by liquid propane gas that kicked on when the power went out - as it did during the blizzard of 1978, making the station a hub for city safety forces, Chief Conine's son said.

He added the rank of lieutenant to serve a department with increased numbers and an emergency medical service, but also to increase the career opportunities for firefighters.

"Bernie was probably one of the most approachable people you'd ever find," Chief Rife said. "Anybody could walk up and start a conversation with him. He was so diverse in his knowledge, from being a pilot and his love of the water. All those skills helped further our department."

In June, 1978, Chief Conine was in charge as Fostoria firefighters, aided by departments from a 25-mile radius, worked to quell a blaze at the Standard Railway Fusee Corp., which made railroad flares. The city was rocked when a series of explosions from the plant hurled burning debris skyward, sparking fires in other structures.

"He had the presence, that he was a leader," his son said

He was hired to the department in 1953 and became a captain in 1965.

He also was a pilot with a commercial license and, off duty from the fire department, flew crop dusters - used to spread fertilizer or insecticide, but also to sow seed over farm fields. He was a corporate pilot for area corporations.

He was born March 15, 1931, in Fostoria to Ruth and Kenneth Conine. He was a 1949 graduate of St. Wendelin High School, where he played football.

He was an Air Force veteran and served stateside as a radar intercept officer. He only learned to fly years later, as a civilian. He'd been commander of the local Civil Air Patrol.

He and the former Patsy Cunningham married April 3, 1951. She died May 30, 2012.

Surviving are his daughters, Stephanie Schlagheck and Kristy Janas; son, William A. Conine; five grandchildren, and three great-grandsons.

Visitation will be from 3-5 and 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Hoening & Son Funeral Home on West Tiffin Street, where a fire department honor guard will be present. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Wendelin Church, Fostoria, with a recitation of the Rosary at 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to Fostoria Fire Department, St. Wendelin Church, or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at [email protected] or 419-724-6182.
Published in The Blade on Jan. 15, 2020
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