By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — After serving 20 years as Cleveland County’s emergency management director, Dan Cary is hanging up his hat.
Cary will be retiring near the end of January. An official date for a retirement reception hasn’t been set yet but will most likely be hosted at the end of February, a county employee said.
During his time spent working in Cleveland County, it seems that Cary has just about seen it all. Before his 20 years of county service, he worked for the Norman Police Department for more than 24 years and spent time with the Oklahoma Association Chiefs of Police.
Cary has responded to a number of disasters and events, including floods, tornadoes, wildfires, ice storms, snow storms and earthquakes.
He also assisted with the Murrah Building bombing in 1995.
“During that time, we required a lot of coordination with local emergency management, law enforcement and fire (personnel) throughout the county and adjoining counties. It was always a team effort to address the response to the situation that was going on and protect the citizens,” he said.
Another duty was maintaining records of any chemical spills within Cleveland County and making that information available to citizens.
“Probably the biggest challenge was the need for the massive response to address the snow storms, flooding events and tornadoes,” Cary said. “It requires cooperation throughout — dealing with people you work with every day, plus people who come in through adjoining communities or states to assist with response and recovery.”
Cary said he has always had the best interest of the community in mind during his time spent as a police officer and emergency management director.
“I’d say my biggest accomplishment was ensuring that the citizens are well served,” he said.
Cary said every effort is made to address citizens’ needs.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t work with Dan on some instance,” County Commissioner Rod Cleveland said.
Whether it was preparing his district’s crew to be able to help out during times of disaster, working on overall safety issues with the county or working on flood plain management, Cleveland said he worked very closely with Cary.
“He will be missed,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to replace him.”
Retired Lt. Jim Spearman with the Norman Police Department said he worked with Cary for quite some time. Cary, he said, was the type of person who gave his honest opinion if you asked him, whether you liked it or not.
“He was a very highly ethical person,” Spearman said.
Spearman also said he was a family man who always put his wife and girls first.
Spending time with family is exactly what Cary intends to do after retirement, too.
“My wife and I have reasonably good health right now, and we have children and grandchildren around that we want to spend more time with,” he said.
Cary also plans on spending more time at his lake home at Lake Texoma and showing a little more attention to his boat and other water toys.
“The thing I’ll miss the most is probably the association with the people within the county. Cleveland County has very good, dedicated employees that I’ve worked with every day for 20 years, and I’ll certainly miss that relationship,” he said.
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