Former fire chief and Steveston volunteer Ted Lorenz mourned

Ted Lorenz, a longtime Richmond firefighter and volunteer, passed away Feb. 20. -
Ted Lorenz, a longtime Richmond firefighter and volunteer, passed away Feb. 20.
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Former Richmond fire chief and longtime Steveston volunteer Ted Lorenz passed away last Thursday.

Lorenz died of complications following a double bypass heart surgery a few months ago according to retired firefighter Loren Slye, who was hired by Lorenz back in the 1970s.

“He was certainly an iconic figure in this community,” Slye said.

Slye recalled the day when Lorenz hired him, and how Lorenz instilled in him the philosophy of giving back to the community.

“The community has hired you, the taxpayers will be paying your wages to retirement. Now and in the future, you owe it to pay back to the community,” Slye recalled of Lorenz’s words of wisdom.

It’s a mindset Slye took to heart.

“Being my mentor, that’s the code I’ve kind of lived by,” Slye said.

“It’s a huge loss to the community,” Slye said, noting the many Steveston projects that Lorenz played a role in.

From the martial arts centre, to the community centre, to the preservation of Garry Point Park to the construction of seniors homes, Lorenz was an instrumental part in each.

Many knew Lorenz through his service with Richmond Fire-Rescue. Others knew him through his community work.

He started as a volunteer firefighter in Steveston at age 18. He transitioned to Richmond Fire-Rescue when it was established, and moved up the ranks to become fire chief in 1979.

In that role he served until 1993.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie paid tribute to Lorenz at Monday’s council meeting. Brodie said as fire chief Lorenz was known as a progressive innovator. He was also a great family man, and his community involvement ran deep.

“He was just a great all round guy who added so much to the community,” he said. “He epitomized community spirit.”

At one point, Lorenz, a former president of Steveston Community Society, was among a handful of people who mortgaged his home to help pay for the completion of Steveston Community Centre facilities.

“We really have lost a friend of the community. We’ve lost a colleague and a fellow volunteer who is much admired in the community of Richmond and Steveston. His legacies will be present in many days ahead.”

Bill McNulty called Lorenz an icon who dedicated his life to Steveston.

“He represented, in my opinion, the very very best of volunteerism.”

Born in Saskatchewan, Lorenz grew up in Steveston, where he attended Lord Byng Elementary, before graduating from Richmond High.  In high school he excelled in baseball, basketball, track and field. He was also an avid curler, golfer and skier.

He he rose up the ranks of Richmond Fire-Rescue to fire chief in 1979. He also served as president of the B.C. Fire Chief’s Association and was honoured with the keys to the city by then Richmond mayor Greg Halsey-Brandt upon retiring in 1993.

Lorenz joined the Steveston Community Society at the age of 14, beginning a lifelong association with the society and the Steveston Salmon Festival. He later became president of the society.

After retiring from Richmond Fire-Rescue,  Lorenz remained a busy volunteer in the community. He was appointed to the Britannia Heritage Shipyard Society as a trustee and introduced the idea for the building of the first senior citizen’s housing complex off No 1 Road and Chatham Street.

Lorenz is survived by his wife Frances, children; Ted Jr., (Denise) Todd (Alana), Kendra (Danny) and Tyler (Jackie), grandchildren; Brandon, Sheldon, Spencer, Tayler, Theo, Jacob, Owen, Taylor, great-grandchildren; Gemma and Mason; and siblings Ed, Ruth, Jerry and Ken; predeceased by parents Steve and Frances.

A celebration of Ted Lorenz’s life will be held Saturday March 1 at the Steveston Community Centre indoor tennis courts beginning at noon. In lieu of flowers, kindly donate to the Richmond Hospital Foundation in memory of Ted Lorenz.

—with files from Matthew Hoekstra and Bhreandain Clugston

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