Community remembers Sheffield Township volunteer fire chief who passed away after 50 years of service

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ASHTABULA, Ohio – Dozens of people in Ashtabula County gathered to honor the life of long time Sheffield Township Volunteer Fire Chief David Kray, 70, who passed away unexpectedly on December 28.

Kray volunteered with the department for nearly 50 years, serving the last 30 of them as chief. He died just days before his retirement was scheduled to take effect at the end of 2015, and one day after his mother died, according to family.

“A very caring, big hearted fellow. Would help anybody,” said his son, David L. Kray II, who said the fire department is practically extended family. “Was proud to do it and be part of the community and that was his second family for sure.”

From friends, to fellow firefighters, many who attended Kray’s funeral Wednesday afternoon at Zaback-Williams-Ducro Funeral Home described him as a “great guy” and father figure. The funeral home said Kray died of natural causes.

“He was like another dad to everybody, and that’s not an exaggeration,” said Claude Kobernik, who took over as Sheffield Twp. Fire Chief.

Kray received full firefighter honors, with dozens of firefighters from at least five local departments paying tribute. Fire trucks joined the funeral procession along State Route 20, passing below an American flag hoisted between two ladder trucks. Neighbors lined the streets, many of them taking pictures.

“A great guy, someone you could count on when you needed to talk,” Sheffield Fire Capt. Dennis Lemponen said. “He taught me a lot, and he taught me to be the guy on the fire department that I am today.”

The procession stopped at Kray Feed, the family business Kray ran in North Kingsville. The funeral home placed a flower bouquet at the business before continuing to the cemetery. Kray leaves behind his wife, Barbara, as well as two children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.