One last ride on the firetruck: Lakeville Fireman Doug Watts put to rest

By Rachael Herbert-Varchetto
Staff Writer

LAKEVILLE – Good men are best remembered as much for their words as their actions.
By all accounts, local fireman Doug Watts was an excellent man, a good auto mechanic, and a dedicated servant to the community as a volunteer fireman.
Watts was born on December 31, 1966 and was a lifelong resident in the town of Lakeville. In 1993, he married his first wife Michelle Riegsecker and had five children with her. However, in 2004, Riegsecker passed away, leaving Watts to raise their children, Kelsi, Karli, Kirby, Kolby, and Kassi on his own.
Before retiring, Watts served 20 years as a volunteer fireman with his fellow firefighters at the Lakeville station.
Over the next few years, Watts became acquainted with a local widow, who’s spouse had passed away unexpectedly, leaving her with three children. In 2011, after five years of knowing each other, Watts married his second wife, Angie Laidig, and adopted her children Sarah Laidig, now Wozniak, and Brad and Luke Laidig. Together with eight kids, Watts became more strapped for time attending sports games, running his business, and being a good family man and father.
However, he still had a special place in his heart for the fire department. A lover of history, Watts managed to purchase the original 1935 Ford pumper fire engine that had belonged to the Lakeville Fire Department years before on a stroke of good luck. The truck had been under the care of an ice cream parlor who had been using it for advertising.
Watts talked them into a deal and he worked diligently to restore the fire truck to its original splendor.
“Not too many towns get their original motorized fire truck to play with and set up for display and special events,” stated Mike Hargreaves, a local fireman who through community events knew Watts.
The truck was scheduled to ride in the Bremen Fireman’s Festival later this year.
Unexpectedly, after his dedicated involvement to family, the community, and being a fireman, Watts suffered an aortic dissection in his heart on June 8 at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
A long –time member of the Community Baptist Church, Watts was laid to rest on June 15. The truck he had worked so patiently to restore was brought to the South Bend church and acted as his hearse to the cemetery.
Taking one final ride, friends, family, and brothers of the fire department gathered to send Watts off in a conveyance befitting his service. At the front of the truck sat his son Kirby, accompanied by other firemen on the front and sides of the transport.
Watts was 48 years old.

This story originally appeared in the June 17, 2015 edition of The Pilot News.