At 27 years old, Bob Stewart and two friends made a road trip that would change his life.
On a whim, the three drove from Salem, Ore., to Yakima — a town Stewart says at the time he couldn’t have pointed to on a map — to take a test to become firefighters.
Some 30 years after that road trip, Stewart will retire — on Wednesday — from his post as chief of the Yakima Fire Department. “I remember when I had been on the job for six or eight weeks and there was a fire captain who had 20 or 25 years on the job and he believed in hiring local people,” Stewart recalled. “He said, ‘I don’t know why we’re hiring a guy from Oregon. He doesn’t have any roots here.’ I’m so glad I proved him wrong.”