DES MOINES, Iowa — A pillar in the community, nurse, mentor and advocate — those were the many hats worn by the late Brian Stoaks. But the most notable one, according to Des Moines Fire Chief John Tekippe, was a firefighter helmet.
"Brian Stokes is pretty easy to talk about. He was all the things that you think that a firefighter should be, but he was really, he was a better person even than that," Tekippe told Local 5.
Stoaks lost his battle to cancer just two days after retiring from the Des Moines Fire Department. Chief Tekippe reminisced about the both of them beginning their careers at DMFD.
"Brian and I actually got hired together in 1996. So, he was 27 years with the Des Moines Fire Department, and he was a firefighter, and then a fire engineer. So, he drove fire engines," Tekippe said.
A DMFD Facebook post honoring Stoaks reads in part: "Even on his most challenging days, Brian Stoaks was there for us and our community. He shared the wisdom we sought; modeled the behavior we emulate and maintained the humor we needed."
Des Moines wasn't the only community who had Stoaks behind the wheel of a fire engine. Clive firefighter Eric Kallem recalled the impact Brian had on the Clive Fire Department from 1991-2005.
"I feel I learned from Brian, you know, just calmness and composure on scene, and how to treat people how to be a leader. Stuff like that. Some of the things I use today as an officer I've learned from him, " Kallem told Local 5.
No matter which hat Stoaks was wearing, he was always offering a helping hand.
"He was involved in his home community, as well as our Des Moines Community. but he was also an RN. And so, he did a lot to help people in all different phases and locations in their life," Tekippe said.
"Brian's biggest legacy is the work he did for people and children with cancer... In every way you look at Stoaks, you see great things," he added.