'All-around a great guy': York City firefighters remember assistant chief who died at 74

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Richard Saylor, who retired in 2009 after 40 years of service, died at York Hospital at the age of 74.

There are some York City firefighters who made the long shift at the station fun — and for acting Fire Chief William Sleeger, his friend and co-worker Richard Saylor was one of those people.

Whether it was firing jokes at other crew members or hiding stink bombs in the cracks of doors, Saylor, a former assistant chief of York City Department of Fire and Rescue Services, was a pro at balancing work and play, Sleeger said.

"When he was here on the job, he was business, but he also clowned around with the rest of the guys," Sleeger said. "There were guys that made it fun like that, and he was definitely one of those guys."

Saylor died Thursday at the age of 74, the fire company announced Sunday. He retired in 2009 after serving the fire company for 40 years.

"We were close," Sleeger said. "We had good times on the job."

Sleeger and Saylor bonded over more than pranks. The two were veterans and often shared their experiences in the military.

Sleeger, who served in the Navy before joining the fire company, often shared stories with Saylor, a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War who served in the Air National Guard for over 27 years.

One of the last conversations the two shared — last week — was discussing plans for a veterans luncheon.

Other members of York City Department of Fire and Rescue Services, including Assistant Chief Pat Rose, also remembered good memories with Saylor.

Rose met Saylor in 1988, and they became close friends. Eventually, Rose asked Saylor to be the best man at his wedding.

"We had a great friendship," Rose said. "He was the life of the party. He just made you laugh all the time."

Even after Saylor joined the fire department, helping veterans remained an integral part of his life, Rose said.

The pair often spent free time together gathering donations to take to the Mr. Sandy Homeless Veterans Center in York City

"He was always looking for ways to help veterans, especially homeless veterans," Rose said.

Saylor started his career with the York City Department of Fire and Rescue Services in 1969, according to a Facebook post.

He is survived by his wife, Carol, a son and daughter, two grandchildren and many cousins, according to his obituary.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at The Church of the Open Door, 8 Carlisle Court. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Mr. Sandy Homeless Veterans Center, located at 412 W. King St., York, 17401.

"He was always there for me. I consider him a mentor," Rose said. "He was just all-around a great guy."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.