Former Oxford resident, retired Brandon firefighter passes
By David Fleet
Special Writer for The Leader
From his service to Brandon Township to his faith to the importance of family, David Borst will be remembered as a firefighter, friend and father whose life etched an indelible mark on those who knew him. David died Dec. 14, 2022 following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 74.
David was born in Pontiac, April 5, 1948, and grew up in Oxford where he met the love of his life. Kerry (Nixon), David’s then wife-to-be attended Oxford’s Clear Lake Elementary School while David was a student at nearby Daniel Axford Elementary. Kerry recalled a sixth-grade basketball game they both attended in the 1950s.
“David walked into the school gym and knew a student that attended Clear Lake,” said Kerry. “David asked him, ‘Who’s that girl?’ The student replied, ‘that’s Kerry Nixon. ‘I’m going to marry her someday,’ replied David.”
The couple attended the seventh-grade Christmas formal a year later.
“It all just started from there,” she said.
David and Kerry attended middle school together and both graduated from Oxford High School in 1966. Recognizing his military draft in the Vietnam War was imminent, David enlisted in the U.S. Army where he was trained as a food inspector.
“Strangely, they did not need food inspectors in Vietnam,” she said. “So he did not go overseas.”
After high school the couple parted. Kerry attended college, married, had a child and then divorced. She moved back to Oxford where David, who was then stationed in the U.S. Army Proving Grounds in Yuma, Az., would come home often on leave to visit Kerry and daughter Sara.
“My sister would be watching Sara while I worked,” she said. “David would come home on leave from the Army and visit Sara while I was gone. David told me, ‘there was never anyone else but you I was interested in.’”
The couple married in 1970 and relocated to Yuma where they lived on base until David’s discharge in 1972. The couple moved to Ortonville to assist his wife Kerry’s father in his commercial painting business. They purchased his grandmother’s Schoolhouse Street home, which had been in the family since the 1800s.
By chance the home overlooked the fire station.
David became a paid on-call firefighter with the Brandon Fire Department on May 1, 1973, a year after coming to Ortonville. He would actively serve for the next 36 years until his retirement from the department in May 2009.
During his retirement interview with The Citizen newspaper in Ortonville, David recalled his first first fire call as an assist to a Groveland Township house fire on Perryville Road and the major fire at the Yolande Hotel in downtown Ortonville, which burned down Dec. 22, 1974.
David was hired as a full-time firefighter on Jan. 27, 1975, making him the longest-serving full-time township employee. He moved up in the ranks as a sergeant and lieutenant, then captain, before becoming assistant fire chief to Fire Chief Bob McArthur in the summer of 1997.
“We worked for many years on fire calls and investigations,” said McArthur, who served as Brandon Fire Chief from 1997-1999. “We did a lot together with our families and as friends. We had plenty of play times too, worked hard and accomplished a lot for the community. Our years at the department were full of all types of adventures, some good, some bad. Our need to help someone is what carried us through some very exciting, and very depressing calls.”
David was asked to begin the fire prevention program in the schools in 1975 by then Fire Chief Jim Frantz. He became extremely interested and started with third grade classes, eventually expanding to include more grades and four visits per year to the schools, teaching low crawling, fire escape and the importance of not playing with matches. He was instrumental in the Fire Prevention Program with the Brandon Schools which later expanded into several other school districts.
“Years later we’d be in Bueche’s Food Store and people would say, ‘there’s Captain Borst, stop, drop and roll,’’ recalled Kerry.
He was a member of the Michigan Fire Chiefs Association and a former Chaplain of the Michigan State Firemen’s Association. David retired as the Assistant Fire Chief of Brandon of Township.
“We raised three children here in the Brandon Schools, Sara, David and Beth,” said Kerry. “We had nine grandchildren, we lost one Aug. 1, 2021. When our son remarried we got two bonus grandchildren, we call them all the ‘magnificent seven.’ David loved all his grandchildren and spending time with them. He especially loved hunting and fishing at his cabin in Hale, Mich. It was his favorite place.”
During the 2021 deer hunting season, while suffering the effects of Parkinson’s disease, David’s son-in-law Billy Starr helped him bag a buck in Brandon Township.
“This past summer, Billy took David to the cabin fishing and hunting, along with golf cart rides,” she said. “Billy sacrificed his summer for David, giving one last summer, he just enjoyed it so much. David had such a good time.”
On Dec. 21, 2022 Oakwood Community Church hosted funeral services for David.
Cutline: David Borst