Westminster first responders are mourning the passing and celebrating the life of Gary Pedigo Sr. Pedigo Sr. began his career of service in 1976 when he joined the Westminster Fire Department. Then, …
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Westminster first responders are mourning the passing and celebrating the life of Gary Pedigo Sr.
Pedigo Sr. began his career of service in 1976 when he joined the Westminster Fire Department. Then, in 2012, he joined the police department, where he was until he passed away on Dec. 2.
“Throughout his entire career, I never saw him ask for anything for himself. He was just never one of those individuals that thought, `How could I benefit from this?’” said Westminster Fire Chief Doug Hall, “He was always there to support others.”
Hall met Pedigo Sr. when they both joined the fire department in the 1970s. Pedigo Sr. joined the department a couple of years after it went from an all-volunteer force to a career-staffed one. “He was there from the initial inception to where we are today,” Hall said.
In the 1970s, there were about 15 career firefighters. Today, there are 143. Much of the department’s growth happened with Pedigo Sr. at its side. He was a training chief, battalion chief, and fire marshal. He helped the department draft its standard operating procedure and adopt the international fire code. He also worked with the volunteer crew throughout his 36 years at the department.
Pedigo Sr.’s teaching technique was unique and uplifting. “Gary had a way of coaching you up without making you feel like you’re a failure, without making you feel like you’re an idiot,” Hall said. Pedigo Sr. supervised Hall on a five-person team that was responsible for driving large fire trucks. Pedigo Sr. practiced the same teaching style, though, when he worked with recreational youth hockey leagues.
Pedigo Sr. retired from the department in 2012. Five months later, he joined the police department. For those who knew Pedigo Sr., his decision to exit retirement for a job with the police wasn’t surprising.
“You don’t stick around the organization (fire department and police department) for 44 years unless you’re dedicated to serving that organization and that community,” said Westminster Police Chief Tim Carlson.
Pedigo Sr.’s was an equipment services technician for the police department, which involved maintaining officers’ equipment and the cruiser fleet. “It’s a rather mundane task, but it’s important,” Carlson said. Yet, Pedigo Sr. approached the job the same way he always had. “He took that (job) very seriously and took care of our people,” Carlson said.
At Westminster PD, Pedigo Sr.’s personality and behavior stood out. Carlson said, “It was so good for our people to see someone that was successful, had a great sense of humor and had a solid family.”
Pedigo Sr. was married for 47 years to his wife, Jacquie, a father to four children. He also had 15 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.
Pedigo Sr.’s impact on the fire and police departments, and the wider community, is beyond measure. It’s why his passing has resulted in a communal grieving process, an experience that Hall and Carlson said hasn’t been easy. “I’ve seen a lot of people wrestle with it individually and within their own workgroup,” Carlson said.
At the same time, the police chief said there’s been a lot of healthy reflection, “recognizing that we need to take care of ourselves and we need to take care of each other.”
When it comes to moving forward, both chiefs hope members of their departments can follow Pedigo Sr.’s example. Carlson said, “if I could get our young cops and some of our supervisors to latch onto that idea of service, that would be a great legacy. I think Gary encapsulated that.”
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