Michael D. Sowich, age 50, of New Hartford, passed away unexpectedly on March 2, 2007, while attending training during the NYS Firefighters Weekend at the National Fire Academy.
Michael was the son of the late Leon and Donna Sowich. A 1975 graduate of T.R. Proctor High School, he pursued studies at M.V.C.C., earning an associate degree in criminal justice. He also received diplomas from the U.S. Army for training in medical and police studies. As a proud veteran, Michael’s military experience spanned 20 years, including a tour in Germany. He was also a reservist with the 331st General Hospital Unit. On June 27, 1981, he married Barbara Lynn Bailey, with whom he shared and celebrated over 25 years of marriage.
Michael was employed by Oneida Limited for 27 years. He was the City of Sherrill Village codes officer and fire inspector.
Michael joined the Sherrill-Kenwood Volunteer Fire Department in 1991 and held the positions of fire marshal, lieutenant, and EMT. Michael was awarded 1996 Firefighter of the Year. He took numerous courses and was proud of his studies at the New York State Academy of Fire Science in Montour Falls. In 1997, he became Sherrill’s official training officer, and in 2001, he was appointed a county fire instructor. This was a natural career progression to an appointment as New York State Fire Instructor. Michael was certified to instruct 22 courses, held 133 training records, and was certified as a HAZMAT specialist. Michael was an amazing instructor who grasped knowledge and taught in a way that each person could comprehend. His attentiveness to detail was impeccable, and his method of teaching was well organized and well planned.
Shortly before Michael’s passing, he joined the New Hartford Volunteer Fire Department, where he had previously taught fire service classes. Many firefighters already knew him, and others quickly learned that Michael was a man of great character and integrity. The New Hartford Fire Department Firefighter of the Year Award is named in his honor.
Michael is survived by his wife, Barbara, and his cherished daughter, Lisa Marie. Also surviving are his sisters and brother-in-law, Barbara Loomis, and Susan and Robert Kubelius; his brother and sister-in-law, Joseph and Vanessa Sowich; his father-in-law, Clarence Bailey; his sister-in-law, Mary Lou Smith; two godsons, Roger E. Smith, Jr., and David W. Smith; and a special uncle, Edward Sowich. He was predeceased by his mother-in-law, Marie Bailey, and brother-in law, Roger E. Smith, Sr.
Michael’s inherent resolve, as all firefighters know and proclaim, was that others’ safety comes first. He lived by the precept that if he could save one person’s life, he did his job. This was an accomplished goal which made him proud.