MEDINA — For the Codding clan, fire service was truly a family affair.
Just look at the history.
There was at least one member of Leland Codding’s family on the Medina Fire Department since 1959 when the eldest Codding joined the fire department. That 60-year streak ended Jan. 1 when Codding’s son Larry retired from fire service.
Leland Codding, 87, joined the fire department six decades ago and colleagues say he was a very active and vital member through to his retirement in 1996. He became the first full-time employee of the department and was fire chief from 1987 through 1996.
He oversaw the construction of three new fire stations during those years.
“(Being a firefighter) runs through our blood,” Larry Codding said Friday.
In total, the Codding family of firefighters includes the patriarch as well as sons Mark Codding, 62; Larry Codding, 60; Steve Codding, 59 and daughter Suzi Boggs, 52.
“The community needs to see what they gave,” former Fire Chief Bill Herthneck said. “Firefighting is a family thing. This family was much more involved than other families.”
Herthneck said it was rare the family ever had a family dinner, a birthday party, watched a movie or even had a good night’s sleep that wasn’t interrupted by a sudden call to duty.
Larry Codding, who spent 36 years in fire service ending at the rank of captain, said when his brothers and sister were young and riding in the family car, often times they’d get a call and go with their father to the fire scene.
“When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get on the fire department,” he said.
He joined the department in November 1982.
“I just had to do it,” he said. “It affected all of us that way.”
Leland Codding said having his entire family on the force was “pretty amazing.” His late wife, Cathy, was on the now-defunct Fire Lassies, who would bring coffee and doughnuts to the firefighters when they were battling a long fire.
“I’ve lived a great life,” he said.
Leland Codding is very active in the American Legion. He was an Army paratrooper in the Korean War.
When Larry Codding retired from the force, it was the end of an era that will probably never be surpassed in the city, Herthneck said. Medina has only had three fire chiefs in the city’s history including himself, Codding and current Fire Chief Bob Painter, who rose to the top rank in 2008.
“(It was) the end of an era,” he said. “I want to make sure the dedication and commitment the Codding family has shown to the city of Medina, the Medina Fire Department and, of most importance, the citizens of our great community do not go into the history book without recognition.”
Larry Codding said his body told him it was time to leave, especially after two knee surgeries. He made his announcement on Facebook with a picture of all his firemen’s gear in a pile.
“It’s something for the younger guys,” the Navy veteran said.
The devotion to service also spread to the Codding’s extended family. Suzi’s husband, Dennis Boggs, was on Medina’s department and is now with Lafayette Township. Her son, Tyler, is a firefighter with Litchfield Township.
“I wondered if I’d miss it,” Larry Codding said.
“I had my pager on my hip for a long time. My pants are a lot lighter. It was hard turning in all of that stuff.”