Robert Hachemeister Sr., honorary fire chief and a former fire captain who volunteered for the Baldwin Fire Department for more than 50 years, died suddenly on June 4. He was 73.
He was remembered for his dedication to his family, friends and work duties, and his colleagues and loved ones said he was a dependable and hard-working man.
Born in Oceanside, Hachemeister lived his entire life in Baldwin. He was a former captain of Hose Company 3 of the BFD, serving in that capacity for a year in 1975.
“The one thing about him — he was a Baldwin guy,” said friend and former fire chief Bob Noble. “I don’t think he ever would’ve moved from Baldwin. He served this community because he loved it.”
His peers called him by his nickname, “Hack.”
“You couldn’t pry him out of Baldwin,” Noble said. “His father was from here, too, and [they were] just a longstanding family in town.”
Hachemeister was also a 37-year member of Baldwin Post 246 of the American Legion. “He was very dedicated to the American Legion; he was very dedicated to the Baldwin Fire Department,” Noble said. “When I was a lieutenant, he was my captain, so we served together for a number of years. His father was in the Fire Department, as well as his uncle. His father’s an ex-chief in the department, too.”
Hachemeister’s son Joe is also a member of the Fire Department.
“When I think of him,” his son said, “the first things that come to mind is he was always there to help, never in need of thanks, always there for a friend, and caring and compassionate.”
“He was an active fireman for many years — as many years as he could be,” Noble said. “He still made calls right up until the time he died.”
Noble said that Hachemeister also pitched in during community cleanups and other local events. He received a meritorious service award in 1991 for saving a woman’s life.
He attended elementary, middle and high school in Baldwin before being drafted into the Army in 1965 immediately after graduation. He served in the Army for four years at a medical facility in Colorado Springs, his sons, Joe and Robert Jr., said.
While he worked multiple jobs throughout his life, his main occupation was as a truck driver for Sanitary District 2 in Baldwin. He also worked as a licensed practical nurse in the Army, where he received his certified training.
“He was a good friend of mine; he was a hard, dedicated worker,” Noble said. “We did a lot together — I was his boss at sanitation. He was just a good guy.”
“The first word that comes to my mind, thinking of my father, is dedicated,” Robert Jr. said. “I don’t think you could find a more dedicated individual, whether it was to my mother, who was very ill for the latter stages of her life, or to the military, or the fire department, or the American Legion, or his friends, family — he was just dedicated.”
He married Lori Klenert in 1968. She died in 1998. Two years later, he married Linda Katz.
In addition to his two sons and wife, he is survived by a brother, William Hachemeister; stepsons Jason and Adam Katz, and seven grandchildren.
Wake services were held at Fullerton Funeral Home Inc. on Thursday and Friday, June 6 and 7, followed by a Fire Department service on Friday, attended by more than 150 people, Noble said. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on June 8 at St. Christopher’s Roman Catholic Church.
“He was a staple of Baldwin, and he got that from his father, and he just didn’t want to leave,” Robert Jr. said. “That’s where he was comfortable. You know, like the expression from ‘Cheers’ where everybody knows your name? My father was Norm in ‘Cheers.’ The guy on the end of the bar that everybody knew — nice guy, would do anything for you, and he didn’t like being out of his own environment. He didn’t like being somewhere where nobody knew who he was.”