KATIE ZERR: Community lost a friend, firefighter


Our community was rocked this weekend with the tragic death of a husband, father, firefighter and friend to many.

It is always sad when a small town loses a member of the community, because we feel we have lost a member of our family. We have had a number of these incidents in the years I have been at this desk, and it is always very difficult to write about an accident that takes the life of someone you know.

It is especially difficult when you know the extended family and have watched them go through the trials and tribulations of life, and watched the children grow into young adults and teens.

This one is a bit harder to take because of Nard Spiry’s nature and his footprint in our community.

Nard was one of those people that always left an impression.  Anyone who knew him well would tell you he wasn’t shy about stating his opinion or ribbing you about yours.

We were on opposite side of many things, including football teams, and I bought Nard many beers to pay off our bets on Viking/Bears games.

He was a public servant to our community, serving as a volunteer fireman for many years. He was there to help many residents save their homes or farmlands from destruction. He was on the side of the road assisting law enforcement and emergency services to help those who suffered in accidents.

He risked his life to help those who needed help.

I can’t imagine how the members of his emergency services family felt as they were involved in helping on this tragic scene.

As difficult it is to deal with the death of a friend, it is times such as this that we need to reflect on what it is that our emergency services personnel do for us.  They are the individuals who brave the elements, leave their families and disregard their safety for those who are in trouble. They are the ones who are out in those weather conditions helping others. They are working when we are safe in our homes.

One of the most vivid memories of my tenure at the Tribune is the night of the bowling alley fire. Our firefighters and those from surrounding communities battled bitter temperatures that froze their equipment and wreaked havoc on the conditions surrounding the building. I was there taking pictures for hours, but had the opportunity to jump into warm vehicles when I became uncomfortable. Not so for those people who tried to control the blaze.

They stayed on the front line, battling the fierce flames, trying to get a foothold in the icy streets and keep the fire contained to one building. The smoke was so thick and the flames so hot and when I turned my back to the fire to warm up the condensation of my breath quickly froze on my nose and hood. It was brutal.

It is something I will never forget.

In the middle of all that was Nard Spiry. That is how I choose to remember him.

In a small community like Mobridge, this accident has touched many lives and word of Nard’s death spread like wildfire on Sunday.

The social media exploded with the information. I’m not a “connected” person, so I got the news the old-fashioned way, through a phone call from a friend.

As I waited for a good time to call authorities, I thought about how all of those involved in the accident were connected. From the Mobridge Ambulance Service staff to the Mobridge First Responders and law enforcement.  They all had to put aside the grief of losing a member of their work family to assist at the accident scene. It must have been so very difficult for them.

As I remembered Nard’s family in prayers, I also remembered the families of all those involved.

They all need and deserve that small consideration.



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