The Cape Coral Fire Department is marking the loss of its very first fire chief, Edward Kocik, who passed away on Sunday, March 12. He was 88.
When residents were transitioning to a county fire district for Cape Coral, the fire board in March 1963 named Kocik temporary chief until an official election could be held. He served as fire chief until his retirement in 1970 and was succeeded by Tim Herrick as the city's first paid fire chief in 1971. The city has had 10 fire chiefs over the years, including current Fire Chief Donald Cochran.
"It is not known if any of the men who served with Chief Kocik or knew him are still around," said Fire Department spokesperson Andrea Schuch.
After incorporating in August 1970, the City of Cape Coral abolished the county fire district and made it a city department in October 1970.
The Cape Coral Fire Department will be represented at the funeral for Kocik by six firefighters manning two trucks and a battalion chief. An honor detail of the U.S. Navy will render military honors at the services since Kocik was a Navy veteran of World War II.
"We were in contact with the family and they gave us permission to participate in the funeral," said Mike Russell, division chief of Operations for CCFD. "We will send a couple of trucks and personnel to the funeral."
Gulf American Land Corporation donated land on Chester Street where the city's first fire station was constructed. Fire Station 1 was completed in September 1963.
"The Cape Coral Fire Department was saddened to hear of the death of retired Fire Chief Ed Kocik," said Cochran. "We hope he would be proud of what the department has become, of how it has grown, and of the quality of service we strive to provide the citizens of Cape Coral. We are grateful for the foundation of core values and principles that he laid as our first fire chief. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time."
Kocik was born Dec. 15, 1928, in Binghamton, N.Y., to Helen (Glovicska) and John Kocik. Chief Kocik lived in Fort Myers from 1962-1992 before moving to North Carolina. He moved back to Fort Myers in 2009. He was a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.
He is survived by his children: Eileen O'Reilly (husband Patrick) of Ocala, Christine Olsen (husband Thomas Dielen) of Lake Placid, Kurt Kocik (wife Stephanie) of Odessa, Texas, and Dale Kocik of Fort Myers; his grandchildren: Cari, Kelley, Robert, Kaley, Conner and Brendan, and great grandchildren: Chanel and Trace.
He was predeceased by his wife, Alice Ann (Jurik) Kocik, who passed away in 2016.
Friends will be received from noon until the time of the service, slated for 1 p.m. Saturday at Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home with burial in Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Cemetery to follow.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home, 1589 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers, FL, 33907. 239-936-0555.