BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Former Maumee Fire Chief Richard “Rick” Monto loved everything about being a firefighter.
“He lived for helping others,” said his daughter, Monica Monto.
On March 5, the former chief passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. He was 61.
“It was more than just fighting fires for him. There was a brotherhood. That was his life, it’s what he did. He was always there to help and that was part of being a firefighter,” she said.
Monto followed his father Carl Monto’s footsteps into a career in firefighting as the elder Monto was a district chief with the Toledo Fire Department. After graduating from MHS in 1977, Monto worked a variety of jobs before joining the Maumee Fire Division as a volunteer in 1982.
He earned an associate degree in fire science and was among the first class to complete the Ohio Fire Executive Program. He was a state-certified FF2, a fire instructor, a fire safety inspector and a paramedic.
He became a full-time paramedic in 1987, lieutenant of heavy rescue in 1992, deputy chief in 1996 and chief in June of 2003. He retired from the Maumee Police Division in January 2015 after 33 years of service.
At the time, he oversaw a department staff of 55 personnel. Maumee Fire Chief Brandon Loboschefski, who took over the position when Monto retired, called him a great mentor not only to him, but also to many other firefighters, including several currently serving on the department.
“We are deeply, deeply saddened by this loss,” Loboschefski said. “He will be greatly missed – this is a huge hole in the city of Maumee Fire Division.”
Loboschefski said he learned many lessons from Monto and described him as a fearless, effective leader with a tireless passion for the job.
“I would not be here without his mentorship,” he said. “He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, his words had meaning and you listened. He had strong command presence. You paid attention.”
Monto routinely followed the mantra “adapt and overcome,” and he expected a lot from those who worked for him. Because of his leadership, he also got a lot in return, Loboschefski said.
“And if anybody needed help with anything, he stepped up, but he could also disconnect and have fun, too, which is important,” he said.
Monto was also very committed to his family and his large circle of friends.
“He is very respected here, with neighboring fire departments and in the region – he touched so many lives and he will be greatly missed,” Loboschefski said.
Monto and his wife Jan celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary on December 4 of last year. In addition to their daughter Monica, they also raised twins Tim and Tom in their Maumee home.
Monto was an avid outdoorsman who loved to fish, hunt, golf and boat, and the couple enjoyed time at their property in Coldwater, Mich. Last year, they moved there permanently.
He also loved spending time with his beloved silver Labrador retrievers, Skyler and Scout.
Monica said that her father was enormously proud of his children and all that they accomplished. Both she and her brother Tom are veterinarians, and Tim followed his father and works as a paramedic and firefighter, full time on the Toledo department and part time for the Maumee division, where he also serves as lieutenant.
“Growing up, part of his defense was that he was kind of gruff, but he was actually lovely,” Monica said. “He was strict, but he cared about us like no other.”