Community remembers Jeffersonville firefighter

Nov. 20—JEFFERSONVILLE — Irvin "Mac" McDowell Kircher was a father, community leader and above all, a firefighter.

Kircher died Nov. 12. He was 77.

Kircher was born in Louisville, was a member of the Boy Scouts, graduated from Holy Trinity School in 1964, and he loved animals and nature.

Kircher attended Bellarmine University, worked as a caddy, cut grass and worked as a stock boy at Winn Dixie, the same place where he met his wife of 56 years, Diana.

According to his family, Diana was called to work at the St. Matthew's location of Winn Dixie as a replacement, and Kircher was assigned as her her bag boy.

He invited her to come over to his house on their lunch break, but Diana refused because her father, who was a retired policeman, warned her about situations like that. She was then transferred to the Bardstown Road location, and Kircher stopped by and asked for Diana. From there their relationship evolved.

Eventually, Kircher left Bellarmine to become a firefighter and had two daughters with Diana, Melanie Kircher Yates and Heather Wathen.

He dedicated 40 years of his life to his career as a fireman, training new firefighters all over Jeffersonville and some in Clarksville.

Kircher was also one of the founding members of Jeff Clark Preservation where he helped restore historic homes in downtown Jeffersonville.

Not only would he take care of other people, he was also an avid animal lover. There was a big fire once along Seventh Street in Jeffersonville and he went to help even though he was retired. During the fire he saw a cat that was running back and forth in front of the house.

He picked it up and gave it to someone, but the cat escaped and went back to the burning house. He then got the cat again and took it to his house and went back to the fire to see if there were any other cats in the fire.

He was the type of person to always reach out with a helping hand, no matter what he had going on, his family and former co-workers said.

Diana Kircher, Kircher's wife, on her late husband:

"He followed the rules, he was a big believer in you following the rules. Everybody should follow the rules. That went for the fire department too."

"He was involved in so many things I didn't even know about. I had a lady stop me in Old Town Grocery and say 'Your husband used to stop and talk to my dad, he had Alzheimer's. Mac was so patient, he listened to the same thing over and over again.'"

Melanie Kircher Yates, Kircher's oldest daughter, on her father:

"He provided for his family. Being a career firefighter, we tried to spend as many hours at home as we can, but there was always the Thanksgiving or Christmases that we went to the firehouse and spent them there."

"He worked 24-hour shifts, so mom a lot of the time was the fulltime caregiver. But when he was home, he was there to help with everything that a dad should."

Heather Wathen, Kircher's youngest daughter, on her father:

"He always wanted us to learn. He was always trying to teach us so many different things. He was extremely knowledgeable about so many different things. I could ask him any question about anything and he would know the answer."

"Growing up as daughters of a firefighter, my sister and I were always listening to the department scanner or radio at the house. If he had a house fire or run in the middle of the night, we would stay up listening to him on the radio. If it were a big fire, we often times would go to watch, making sure my dad was OK. We even would take the firefighters food, donuts or even just waters."

Marty Stengel, a retired fire captain in Jeffersonville, on the early days of working with Kircher:

"Back then we didn't go to school, we pretty much just learned everything from the guys around the fire station. Mac was the guy who was always there, no matter what I would come to him and ask him. Whatever he was doing he would stop and always took the time to show us what we needed to know."

Pam Blanchard, a retired fire captain in Jeffersonville, talks about her experience with Kircher:

"I was the second woman hired... he trained us both. He was a great mentor. He was my captain for a long time, he was my teacher for a long time. He had respect for everybody, he didn't treat anybody any different."