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Gridley Saying Good Bye to Long-Time Firefighter

GRIDLEY - We often think of firefighters as heroes, and perhaps as those who live to serve and never give up. The town of Gridley is saying good bye to a man who did that and more...
GRIDLEY - We often think of firefighters as heroes, and perhaps as those who live to serve and never give up. The town of Gridley is saying good bye to a man who did that and more for parts of seven decades.

"That record will never be broken. I can say that because you know I'll never get 66 years at my age, and I probably don't want to," said John Hoobler, former fire chief of Gridley.

Charlie Klein's last call as a firefighter was in November of 2012, but he didn't want to say good bye to the place he loved.

"At 92, you figure his age is getting up there and his health was declining but after that, he continued to come to the business meetings and trainings," said Casey Knobloch, fire chief for Gridley.

Over the years, Klein served in the Army, winning a Purple Heart, then as a police chief and fire chief. He also worked in a machine shop and as a farmer in Gridley, but the firehouse was one place he just couldn't stay away from.

"He was probably stronger than most of us, and it was his second home. He was never married. So, he spent a lot of time here at the firehouse. Any time we had a question of what to fix, or where it came from, we would ask Charlie," said Knobloch.

During his time, more than 130 firefighters served in Gridley. Klein went out on more than 2, 600 calls as a firefighter.

"And when he started, they didn't have those air packs 66 years ago, they just went down in there on their hands and knees and fought the fires," said Hoobler.

And that attitude didn't stop there.

"You always knew he would respond, have the doors open for us. In the middle of the night, he would be the one with his shoes tied, ready to go," said Knobloch.
"If I had a problem, I'd call Charlie and he'd come over to my house and bail me out. He could fix anything and everything," said Hoobler.

A visitation for Klein will begin at the Gridley Fire Department at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

His memorial service starts at 1 p.m. at Gridley Cemetery. Klein's ashes will be transported to the grave site on a fire engine.

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