Clarendon fire chief praised for courage amidst fight with cancer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 March 2015 at 12:00 am

Jon DeYoung thanks community for support

Photos by Tom Rivers – Clarendon Fire Chief Jon DeYoung holds up a photo of his son Jon DeYoung Jr. from a few years ago while introducing members of a firefighting youth group. DeYoung has fought colon cancer the past two years. He was installed as the fire company’s fire chief on Saturday night.

CLARENDON – In October an ambulance was sent to Jon DeYoung’s home. DeYoung is a long-time Clarendon firefighter and the ambulance squad knew him.

It didn’t look good for DeYoung. He just had a second surgery for colon cancer and an infection was threatening his life. His brother Jim DeYoung said the family worried if Jon DeYoung would survive that night.

DeYoung fought through the infection and he has made it through radiation, chemotherapy and surgeries the past two years. The 49-year-old had a scan about two weeks ago and he said doctors didn’t see any signs of cancer.

On Saturday, DeYoung was installed as the fire company’s chief, replacing Bob Freida who served in the role the past eight years. DeYoung previously served as chief about 20 years ago.

“I’m feeling good,” DeYoung said after Saturday’s installation dinner. “You got to keep a positive attitude.”

DeYoung was awarded the President’s Award from Danny Campbell, the outgoing president. Campbell has served in the role for eight years. Freida is the Fire Company’s new president.

Outgoing Fire Chief Bob Freida (pictured at podium) presented a Chief’s Award to active volunteer Karl Biedlingmaier, a lieutenant with the Fire Company.

Campbell served as emcee of the installation dinner, and he mixed in many jokes during the event. However, he was overcome with emotion and wasn’t able to get the words out when he wanted to give the President’s Award to DeYoung. Campbell said afterward he is thankful his long-time friend is back to good health.

Campbell wanted to recognize DeYoung “for never giving up and for showing exceptional courage.”

DeYoung is the son of a former fire chief. DeYoung’s son Jon Jr. also is active with the Fire Company, serving on the board of directors and as a captain.

“I’ve had a lot of support from the fire departments and people in general,” DeYoung said.

Campbell also was honored during the installation dinner for 40 years of service to the Clarendon Fire Company. He was presented with a plaque from the Fire Company and citations from the offices of State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Congressman Chris Collins.

Cassie Mohney, left, and Dalton Major serve as captains in the firefighting youth group. Cassie thanked the Clarendon, Holley and FHM fire companies for supporting the program and for the many mentors who dedicate time in working with the youths.

“This individual has really stood out,” Freida said in recognizing Biedlingmaier.

Freida also was praised for bringing new programs into the Fire Company, including a youth group for Holley students. Clarendon teams with Holley and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray firefighters with a program that is the only one of its kind in the state.

Freida said the initiative should develop firefighters of the future for the departments in eastern Orleans County.

There are 13 Holley students who participate in the program, learning basic firefighting skills.