Toledo Irish: John P. Kelly Division AOH (Toledo) Firefighter Members
By Maury Collins
The John P. Kelly Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians has been well represented by Toledo Firemen. The division has five retired firefighters on the roster: Tom Navarre, Tim Boaden, Mike Moeller and Dave Meegan. We remember, with love, two of our firefighter members, who have passed, John O’Halloran and Larry Maher.
Tom Navarre is a former Deputy Chief in the Toledo Fire Department. He was a man of authority, who was respected and loved. I have never heard a bad word about the man. He is a gentleman, who has been active in the Toledo AOH for as long as I can remember.
Commodore John Barry
Tom was awarded the Commodore John Barry medal along with fellow retired Toledo Firefighter John O’Halloran in February, 2010. Tom was appointed to the Toledo Fire Division in 1955, He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1965, Captain in 1976, Deputy Chief in charge of the Fire Prevention Bureau in 1980 and Deputy Chief of C Platoon in charge of all fires defense in 1982.
Tom retired in 1987, after serving for 32 years. One of the stories Tom likes to tell is about a fire in a six family apartment building in the old West end of Toledo. They found one hundred fifty pounds of dynamite in the basement in unstable frothy condition.
Tom called the police bomb squad and ATF. He had a one half block in each direction evacuated. Tom says there were no blasting caps, thank God. They had to wrap two sticks of dynamite at a time in old newspaper.
The dynamite was taken to a quarry in Sylvania. The area was finally cleared at six o’clock the next morning.
Mike Moeller served on the Toledo Fire Department twenty-nine years, retiring in 1990. You will find him working in the kitchen at the St. Patrick’s Day event and helping out whenever he is needed. Mike and his wife, Kathy were Hibernians of the Year in 2019.
Dave Meegan started on the Sylvania Fire Department on 1977. He went to the Toledo Fire Department in 1988 and retired in 2010. Dave took up the Bagpipes in 1998.
There was a lot of discussion about forming a Toledo Fire Department Drum and Pipe band, since so many departments around the country have one. Dave was instrumental in starting one up and still plays his Bagpipes with the group.
Dave had attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Historic Church often since it was located in downtown Toledo, convenient to many fire stations. After retirement, he decided to join the parish officially.
St. Patrick’s Church Destroyed
On September 9, 1980, the 240 Ft. steeple of the church was destroyed by fire caused by a lightning strike. On September 9, 2007, St. Patrick’s Historic Church welcomed firefighters past and present for a special Mass honoring Firefighters. The Rev. Dennis Hartigan, pastor of the downtown Toledo parish at that time, credits the fire department with saving St. Patrick’s.
“Their dedication and determination on Sept. 9, 1980, kept this church open,” Father Hartigan wrote in a greeting to those who attended the fifth annual firefighters’ Mass. “What could have been the end of this parish turned into a rebirth.
Among those who filled the church to standing-room capacity were 100 or so firefighters, mostly from Toledo, but also from suburban departments including Perrysburg, Oregon and Washington Township. Dave Meegan and the Toledo Fire Department drum and Pipe band led the procession in.
Firefighter’s Mass Becomes Annual Event
After the Mass, Father Denny suggested that the special Mass should become an annual event and that a side altar be permanently dedicated to firefighters. He asked Dave Meegan and a retired Perrysburg firefighter, Gabriel Edwards to set up an altar and maintain it.
John O’Halloran, R.I.P., was a feisty little guy, who loved to laugh. He was active in many AOH activities and was always available to do more than his share of the work. He won a few Hibernian golf tournaments with his wife, Midge and son, Mike on his team.
John was awarded the Commodore John Barry medal, along with Tom Navarre, on February 25, 2010. John, at, age 80, passed away October 3, 2010. He was a veteran of the Korean War and retired from the Toledo Fire Department as a Lieutenant in 1987. He was admired and loved by the other firefighters.
Dave Meegan played bagpipes at John’s funeral. I admired John’s love and devotion to Midge and to his children, Bridget, Ann and Mike. He was a wonderful friend, who I miss very much.
Larry Maher, R.I.P., a 29-year Toledo Fire Department veteran, died Jan. 31, 2018 at age 83. He volunteered to work at each Hibernian event. His smile and his sense of humor were wonderful. He worked out regularly until the end. His handshake was crushing!
Larry retired in January 1994, from the Toledo fire department. He’d been promoted to lieutenant in December, 1988. He was appointed to the fire service in November 1965,
Dave Meegan told me that Larry visited Dave’s father often to spend time with him, and offer comfort. He had a good Catholic faith. That meant a lot to him.
When he learned retired comrades were ill, he visited them. He attended the annual Mass at the Historic Church of St. Patrick to honor firefighters. And he still attended grade-school reunions.
He volunteered for funeral luncheons at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Temperance, where he was a parishioner. He also was a Meals on Wheels volunteer.
He married Stephanie on Nov. 17, 1962. They celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 2012. Larry was truly a giant of a man. I miss him very much also.
Whenever these gentlemen got together, either at a meeting or an event, you could hear them swapping stories about their days on the fire department. Ask any of them and they will tell you that being a firefighter is the greatest job in the world. Ask them what they miss, and they will tell you they miss the people, a brotherhood, and the satisfaction of helping others.
The John P. Kelly Division AOH welcomes all Irish Catholic firemen, active or retired.