Daniel Bruce Packer, of Lake Tapps, Wash., died July 26, 2008, while scouting a wildland fire in Klamath National Forest in Northern California.
He was 49. Dan was born August 12, 1958, in Havre. As an only child, he shared responsibility for the family ranch north of Rudyard and developed an ambitious discipline that served him well throughout his life. He rode broncs, roped cattle and was well-liked for his sense of humor. At 17 he moved to the Seattle area for his senior year of high school where he met his future wife, Marylee. While they did not date at the time, they were very good friends and in those early years laid the foundation for their 28-year marriage. Dan and Marylee married in 1980 and had four daughters. Dan enjoyed being a father and took parenting of his girls very seriously. His daughters greatly admired and respected him. For all his gruffness he was a softhearted man who doted on his family. Dan began working for the fire service in 1981. For the first 13 years of his career he served in Burien, Wash. In the 1994 he accepted a position as Battalion Chief of Bonney Lake Fire Department in Washington and became chief in 1995. As chief he facilitated the creation of East Pierce Fire & Rescue, a successful merger of several smaller departments. His vision for the department and its service to the community was very large and it showed in how he approached his work. In 2004, he assumed the presidency of the Washington Fire Chiefs, a position he retained until July 2008. In 2006, Dan’s first grandchild was born. Together with Marylee, he spent a great deal of time with his grandson, often having sleepovers and recruiting his “little shadow” to help with projects such as washing the car and mowing the lawn. His devotion to his children and grandchildren was surpassed only by his love for his wife. Dan’s service was held Aug. 7, 2008, and he was buried with honors in Sumner, Wash., the same day. He is survived by his wife, Marylee; his mother, Winnie; his daughters, Nicole, Katrina, Rachael and Nellie; and his two young grandchildren, Wilson and Violet.