Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Memoriam: Brian Mickley

March 15, 2010 12:36 pm by  
Filed under Life, News

brian1One of Allentown’s most devoted native sons has left us. Brian Mickley was a rare breed in so many ways: A true Allentonian…born, raised, educated, married, employed, in the city he loved.  And when Brian was committed, he stuck. That level of character is something you don’t see much of these days.

Brian married his childhood sweetheart, Carol Schneck. They met when she was 14, he was 16.  You only needed to be in their presence a short time before you realized they were soul mates. Brian & Carol

He always wanted to be a firefighter and became one at 19, rising to the rank of Chief which was the culmination of a lifetime dream. It didn’t end well because Brian was incapable of playing politics. As his long- time executive assistant, Linda Hanna said, “He is egoless. Some people don’t recognize that style of leadership.” Even as Chief, he was highly regarded by his men. I.A.F.F. Local 302 has a moving tribute on their website.

In this day of self-aggrandizement and me, me, me focused society, Brian Mickley stood out like one of those old-time western heroes: Tall, imposing, and quiet. Being in his presence was reassuring because you had the feeling that no matter what happened, Brian could handle it. But if you looked closely, you could always see a twinkle in those blue eyes.

Brian Mickley lived his life in love and service to his family, friends, and his city. He volunteered with local fire departments, taught young firefighters how to stay alive, and shared his “other love”, astronomy, with a generation of children at the Lehigh Valley Planetarium on South Mountain. 

Speaking for myself, I will never again look up in the night sky without thinking of him.

Brian will be dearly missed by his family and friends. For the city of Allentown, the loss is irreplaceable.

Blogger’s Note: When Brian retired from the Allentown Fire Dept., I wrote a tribute to his  service. That story is available online at The Morning Call.

Comments

8 Responses to “In Memoriam: Brian Mickley”
  1. Butch Breitenstein says:

    Pam…. What a lovely and fitting tribute to Brian! I was moved by your insight.

  2. Pamela says:

    Thank you, Butch.
    He put up such a valiant fight that it’s hard to believe he’s really gone.

  3. Rolf Oeler says:

    I wonder if this guy is a descendent of John Jacob Mickley, the Whitehall guy who, with his 11-year-old son, brought the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia to Allentown’s Zion’s Reformed Church in September of 1777.

  4. Pamela says:

    Rolf,

    That’s a good question. I’ll ask the family and post the response. I do know that Brian’s family has deep roots in the Valley and has been here for generations, but I’m not sure if they are “those” Mickleys.

    Thank you for commenting.

  5. Rolf Oeler says:

    Either way, firefighters are everyday heroes.

    Now, Allentown has one less.

  6. Pamela Varkony says:

    Rolf, as promised I asked Brian’s family about his heritage, and he is indeed a descendant of the Mickley’s who helped spirit the Liberty Bell out of Philadelphia.

    According to Brian’s wife, Carol, “Brian spoke one year at the Liberty Bell Shrine annual dinner – they had him speak about the Mickley family and then a representative from the Leeser family (who finished carrying the bell) also spoke. Brian’s parents are buried in the Mickley Cemetery.

    Our sons always liked when we’d go the back way to Whitehall and see the sign for “Mickleys” – I’d tell them it was there so we’d know where to turn.”

    Carol also adds, “I am a descendant of the Schneck family, which settled the Schnecksville area. So our kids always had lots of local info when they had to do reports on their ancestral background.”

    My thanks to Carol for taking a moment to respond during this difficult time.

  7. Rolf Oeler says:

    Thanks to Mr. Mickley’s wife for answering. I was curious when I saw his last name.

    Sorry for your loss, Mrs. Mickley.

  8. Lexi Miller says:

    I am so very sorry to read of your great loss. By the sound of all that I have read about Brian, he was truly a Mickley, always giving. How wonderful!
    I am also a descendant of the Mickley Family…my maternal grandmother’s father was Nancy Mickley’s son. I don’t know if she had any other children. Nancy was the daughter of Daniel Mickley….she married Daniel Metler and they had a son…Marshall Harrison Metler who married Margaret Langdon and had my grandmother..Clairbell Metler Husted and her sister Nora. I have one of the “blue” books of the Genealogy of the Mickley Family from 1893. I am 59 years old and live in San Antonio, Texas….I have been reading the book and doing online research, it is very interesting and I someday hope to visit your area and to meet other Mickley’s and learn more. I was born in Ohio and lived in Michigan growing up, never got to Mickley’s or Philadelphia…but I will!! Please respond to my email address at spiritgirl4fun@yahoo.com…I so look forward to hearing from Mickley family members… Thank you.. Lexi Miller

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