Bickerstaff remembered by colleagues

STEUBENVILLE – His nick name was “Red” because of his hair, but retired city firefighters are describing retired fire Chief Bernard Bickerstaff as “the quiet man” and “a gentle giant.”

Bickerstaff died Thursday at the age of 84.

He was hired as a Steubenville firefighter in 1957 after serving in the Air Force.

Bickerstaff was promoted to captain in the fire department in 1963 and then became an assistant chief four years later.

On Aug. 23, 1973, Bickerstaff was sworn in as fire chief.

Retired fire Capt. Jim Humienny said Bickerstaff “was of the old school.”

“He was the chief and he came across as a fire chief. That’s how we all saw him. He was strict but also very fair. We called him the ‘gentle giant.’ He was a very good man,” stated Humienny.

Retired firefighter Dominic “Mo” Fato described Bickerstaff “as someone who couldn’t help you enough.”

“I really liked the man. He was a good fire chief and a good fireman. I once heard him described as, ‘the quiet man’ because he didn’t get excited and didn’t say much. But he knew his job and he was very good at it. I think the fire department was his first love,” Fato remarked.

“He was never one to seek attention for himself. He really was a quiet man,” added Fato.

“I knew Red through the fire department. He was a very nice man and a good guy,” recalled retired fire Chief Terri English.

And retired fire Chief Rick Blair described Bickerstaff “as a hardworking man.”

“I worked with him at the fire department for about 20 years and he was always tutoring the younger firemen. He was an excellent chief and a very good tutor. He was always teaching us about the job. He was also a good firefighter,” said Blair.

Calling hours for Bickerstaff are from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Mosti Funeral Home, Sunset Chapel.

A Funeral Liturgy with Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. Peter Catholic Church.