Big cheese marshal for Clintonville parade

Stemper volunteered for local fire department

Grace Kirchner Leader Correspondent

Retired fireman Mike “Cheese” Stemper has been selected as parade marshall for the annual Fireman’s Festival on Aug. 11 in Clintonville.

Stemper has retired from the department but is now a member of the Fire Police. Those serving with the Fire Police are on a call system. They can be called to the station and often asked to help at the scene of the fire call, or they may remain at the station to assist should another call come in. The Fire Police was organized in January and now has a dozen members.

Stemper picked up the nickname “Cheese” because he grew up living in a cheese factory located five miles out of Clintonville on County Road O. The nickname has been passed down to his children and grandchildren.

“If you ask some of the guys at work what my name is, they don’t know because they all know me as ‘Cheese,’” Stemper said.

He retired from Miller Electric after working there for 40 years.

Stemper joined the Clintonville Volunteer Fire Department when he was in his mid-30s because he was looking for an opportunity to help people.

“I was born and raised here and had been hauling milk for many years, so I knew the roads and where people lived,” Stemper said.

Some of the worst fires are barn fires, according to Stemper. He remembers a fire where a life was lost.

“We could see the person but couldn’t get there,” Stemper said.

Besides working at Miller Electric, for the past 40 years, Stemper has been hauling milk and cash crops on weekends and nights. Earlier, he hauled cabbage at Bear Creek.

Stemper manages to get a lot of work accomplished in a day but he has also managed to take his 1995 Mustang to car shows. He also has a GT Convertible. He collects 1/24th-size NASCAR vehicles and has over 400 of them in his basement.

When you are a fireman, it involves the family, too. Often on a Sunday when the family wanted to do something, Stemper had to tell them to go without him, as he was on call.

“I am used to driving the old fire truck in the parade and now I will be riding in it,” Stemper said.

He recalled that his sons used to love riding with him in the truck in the parades when they were young.

Stemper said that firefighter requirements are constantly changing. Today, fire trucks must be totally enclosed. Firefighters are no longer allowed to ride standing in the back.

Stemper has served his community well, and he said he “wouldn’t change a thing.” He still keeps busy and walks 5 miles a day.