Retired Auburn Fire Chief and retired King County Fire District 44 Commissioner Steve Shropshire was a giant in the development of fire service programs and training in the Auburn Community, in King County, across Washington state and the nation.
Among his many achievements were the Special Operations Program, the Washington State Fire Academy, the Auburn helipad for the Air Lift Program and the AFD EMT Program.
Privately, Shropshire was known for his love of family and friends, his unwavering dedication to the fire service, his creativity, his cartoons and his colorful sense of humor.
Shropshire passed away at his home in Auburn on Dec. 20 from cancer. He was 74 years old.
King County Fire District 44 Commissioner Jim Farrell, Chief Greg Smith and neighbor Phil Johnson arranged an honorable last salute at the family home in Highland Meadows. There, in a show of the tremendous respect in which he was held, his neighbors lined the streets, many holding American flags, as the family escorted him to Klontz Funeral Home, where Valley Regional Fire Authority personnel and trucks were waiting.
Later, the family dressed Shropshire in his Auburn Fire Department dress uniform and and placed his chief’s hat upon his chest.
All of which would have pleased him mightily, said wife, Merry.
“How he always loved ritual and ceremony,” Merry wrote in a release.
Steve Shropshire was born on May 18, 1946, to Monroe and Roseleen Shropshire in Athens, Georgia.
He graduated from Evergreen High School in Burien in 1964 and joined the United States Navy. He completed Naval Security Group communications training in Pensacola, Florida, served at Imperial Beach, Calif., on the USS Providence in Yokosuka, Japan, and in Vietnam, where he was a communications technician for the Admiral of the 7th Fleet from 1967 to 1968.
He married the love of his life, Merry Johnson, in 1967.
After his service, he returned to the states from Vietnam and Japan with Merry and son, Mark. His son, Matthew Shropshire, was born in 1971.
The legacy Auburn Fire Department him in January of 1969. Shropshire attended Green River Community College, North Seattle Community College, the University of Washington, the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program, the Washington State Police Academy, and was an arson investigator for the Auburn Fire Department and for Pinkerton.
Having risen through the ranks of the Auburn Fire Department, he was promoted to assistant chief at 38 years old in 1984. He retired in 1995 after 28 years with the department.
Shropshire was an instructor at various institutes, among them Bellevue Community College, Washington State Fire Academy, King County Training Officers, and the George Meany Labor Institute.
He was also an author and a speaker at the National Fire Academy.
He was also the recipient of many honorable awards and recognized by the City of Auburn, Green River Community College, the Public Relations Society of America, the Board of Directors of the Auburn Rotary, the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFD Local 1352, and the King County Fire Officers Training Organization.
Steve was a member of the Hat Island Fire Department. After retirement he was elected to serve as King County Fire District 44 Commissioner.
“Steve loved the fire service and all those he worked with through the years,” said Merry.
She said her late husband requested a big celebration of his life with friends and loved ones in the spring, all of whom, she said, “lifted him and our family toward the blessings and beauty of his life and your comfort was immeasurable. Thank you.”