'He's a pillar': Former Antioch fire chief remembered for service to hometown

  • Former Antioch Fire Chief Dennis Volling, right, salutes after receiving the American flag that had flown over the downtown fire station, at his retirement ceremony in 2010. He served the department for 55 years, the last 14 as chief.

    Former Antioch Fire Chief Dennis Volling, right, salutes after receiving the American flag that had flown over the downtown fire station, at his retirement ceremony in 2010. He served the department for 55 years, the last 14 as chief. Daily Herald File Photo, 2010

  • Dennis Volling

    Dennis Volling

 
 
Updated 4/6/2022 6:16 AM

Visitation and funeral services for Dennis Volling will be held at Antioch Fire Department Station 1, but not solely because of his 55-year tenure with the organization, 14 of them as chief.

Organizers also wanted to be sure there was room for everyone to say goodbye to Volling, a true community supporter well-known for his service to Antioch, the hometown he never left.

 

Volling died Friday. He was 78.

"We anticipate a very large turnout," Fire Chief Jon Cokefair said. "He's touched so many lives and organizations."

Volling began his career as a paid-on-call firefighter in the mid-1960s. A diver with a variety of certifications, he was on the department's first rescue and recovery dive team and served as part-time chief until his retirement in 2010.

"Although he was classified as a part-time chief, he very rarely missed any calls, any time," said Deputy Chief Jim Cook, who knew Volling all his life and considered him a mentor.

"He was a huge character and a massive presence," Cook said. "He had a big booming voice and filled the room."

Volling often had succinct diving advice dating to his early days and a time when he became untethered beneath ice.

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"Hang on to your rope. Don't get lost," Volling often cautioned, according to Cook.

At his retirement ceremony, Volling said he was most proud of overseeing the construction of the new fire stations on Grass Lake Road and Deep Lake Road.

He also was a pioneer in helping transform the department from an all-volunteer operation, said village Administrator Jim Keim.

"I was always impressed by his foresight," Keim said. "He had a lot of influence on the development of a lot of our firefighters over the years."

Volling was well-known outside the firehouse as a businessman and volunteer.

"He was 100% community-dedicated," said Richard Kufalk, who met Volling in second grade and remained a lifelong friend.

Volling was the vice president of Antioch Electric Service Inc. for more than 40 years. In that role, he oversaw the installation of the first poles and lights at the Antioch Little League fields and coached his children there for 10 years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He also coached Antioch Viking football and was a member of the Antioch Jaycees and Antioch Lions Club.

"He's a pillar," Cokefair said.

"Everything that was going on, Denny was involved somehow, some way," Cook added.

Volling is survived by Kathleen, his wife of 29 years, as well as five children and seven grandchildren,

Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday and from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday, at Station 1, 835 Holbeck Drive. Burial will take place at a later date at Hillside East Cemetery in Antioch.

The service will include a procession through town on an antique fire truck.

Donations can be made to First Fire District of Antioch in his memory. Visit www.strangfh or call (847) 395-4000 for more information.

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