Bremerton Fire Department chief and city finance director are both retiring

Al Duke, who has headed the fire department for nearly 20 years, told Mayor Patty Lent that he would retire from his post Jan. 26. Cathy Johnson worked her way up from the city treasurer’s office to become finance head two years ago. She will retire Dec. 31.

BREMERTON — Two of Bremerton’s top city managers are retiring in the next few months.

Al Duke, who has headed the fire department for nearly 20 years, told Mayor Patty Lent that he would retire from his post Jan. 26. Cathy Johnson worked her way up from the city treasurer’s office to become finance head two years ago. She will retire Dec. 31.

Duke spent 33 years in the city’s fire department, joining Bremerton in 1984. In July 1997, then-mayor Lynn Horton named him interim chief, and he later accepted the permanent position.

But shortly after he took the position, Bremerton was hit by one of the most disastrous fires in Kitsap County history, with an apartment complex going up in flames, killing four people and leaving homeless several hundred more. Duke later led a push to get fire sprinklers into apartment buildings with four or more units.

Lent praised Duke recently, pointing out that he had managed the department’s sometimes painful task of weathering deep budget cuts during an economic downturn. He also had a major role in negotiating a contract with the firefighters.

Duke said that he intended to use this time to spend quality time with his family — his wife, Amy, and their children and grandchildren.

Cathy Johnson’s departure after a 37-year career was a touch bittersweet. Beginning her career as an assistant treasurer, she worked her day up from the city treasurer’s office. She eventually made a name for herself finding ways to save the city money. Another key trait she displayed was the political touch to deal with the Bremerton City Council.

 

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