William “Bill” Markgraf served as Columbia’s fire chief for 23 years, and he was known for being “tough-minded” yet sensitive to the community’s needs.

“He always had that sixth sense of what the community would accept and what they wouldn’t,” Columbia City Manager John Glascock said.

Markgraf, 84, died at home Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. His funeral service was Wednesday.

Glascock worked in tandem with Markgraf on projects involving the city. He said Markgraf made influential decisions and set precedents in the Columbia Fire Department.

“He left the legacy of standardizing all of their equipment,” Glascock said. “We have the same kind of fire trucks we have today as when he left. He standardized a lot of things we do.”

During his tenure as fire chief, the Fire Department expanded with the construction of three new fire stations. Markgraf was known for his knowledge of fire safety, fire prevention and firefighter air supply, the Missourian has reported.

When Markgraf retired from the Columbia Fire Department, he didn’t stop being the chief.

“Every time I saw him I would ask, ‘How are you doing, Chief?’ and he would reply, ‘Still breathing!’” said Heather Hargrove of Liberty Family Medicine. Hargrove and Markgraf served as ambassadors together in the Chamber of Commerce.

Wally Pfeffer, an ambassador who worked with Markgraf for 27 years, highlighted how Markgraf didn’t quit serving his community after his retirement.

Markgraf was “incredibly loyal and committed to the groups and people he loved,” Pfeffer said.

Michele Spry from Midway Electric Inc. said “Chief was one of the good guys.”

He was “always early and always involved.”

“There is a hole in all the ambassador’s hearts,” Spry said. Markgraf left a legacy of service above self.

“He was committed,” Pfeffer said. Markgraf’s legacy, as described by Pfeffer, will continue to serve the community as an example of “service and the values of service though organizations.”

  • Assistant city editor, grad student studying investigative reporting and photojournalism. You can reach me at cjmx5d@umsystem.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

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