• MARIN'S FALLEN FIREFIGHTERS

    MARIN'S FALLEN FIREFIGHTERS

    Honoring Those Who Sacrificed

Fallen Firefighter:

Michael McCusker

1950-2006

San Rafael Fire Department

Occupational Cancer


Flags in San Rafael were lowered to half staff Tuesday in honor of longtime firefighter Michael McCusker, who died of cancer Monday. He was 56.

Mr. McCusker, a Terra Linda native who lived in Petaluma, served as a firefighter for the San Rafael Fire Department for 34 years.

"He was a giant of a human being: a giant as a father, giant as a husband and giant to his parents," San Rafael fire Chief John Montenero said Tuesday.

"Every once in a while, someone comes along with a special personality where everything comes from the heart. With him, everything was sincere," Montenero said. "He was always helping new employees. Quietly, in the background, he was always helping others."

Just hours after his death, the City Council adopted a resolution honoring Mr. McCusker and his family. About a dozen firefighters attended the ceremony in the council chambers.

"This is a very sad occasion, but I'm pleased we can do this for the family," Mayor Al Boro said.

San Rafael Firefighters Association President Jeff Conover accepted the resolution on the family's behalf.

"I want to thank the council for this action," he said. "I can't tell you how much this will mean to the McCusker family."

The resolution read: "The city wants to thank Mr. McCusker and his family for ? every life that his life protected, mentored, saved, taught, or in some other most positive way helped."

Mr. McCusker graduated from Terra Linda High School. He loved sports and coached softball and soccer. He loved camping, cooking, water skiing and hiking, San Rafael fire Capt. Michael Morgenlaender said.

"He had quite an impact," Morgenlaender said. "He was truly a friend of mine off duty."

Mr. McCusker was active in his Petaluma church.

Firefighters and supporters of Mr. McCusker participated in the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life" in Rohnert Park last June.

Several colleagues shaved their heads during a pancake breakfast to demonstrate solidarity with Mr. McCusker, who had been fighting the disease for about six months.

Mr. McCusker is survived by his parents, Jeanette and Owen, of San Rafael; wife, Maureen; and daughters, Marrissa, 23, and Meredith, 20.

The flag flying at half staff at Station No. 6 in Terra Linda will be used in the memorial service planned for Mr. McCusker. The service is private.