| Clarke Palmer, the last living corporate founder
of the Gowans-Knight Company, passed away on March 11, 2007. Clarke was not
just a fabricator; but a fabricator of ideas who was constantly looking for a
better way to accomplish the tasks at hand. The corporation he molded from its
infancy in 1954, a welding and metal fabrication business grew into a Fire
Apparatus manufacturing facility.
In 1963 Clarke was called upon by
the Northfield Fire Department to design a fire apparatus for their department
with a budget of $2,500.00. Clarke took on the challenge and accomplished the
task in a timely manner. Word of Clarke's first fire truck spread and it wasn't
long after that Clarke was approached by other departments requesting apparatus
designed to their specific needs.
As the demand grew Clarke changed
the direction of the corporation from general welding / fabrication to a
manufacturer of fire apparatus and a distributor of firefighting equipment. In
the early 70's Clarke became a dealer for Oren Fire Apparatus of Roanoke, VA as
well as Ladder Towers, Inc. of Ephrata, PA. He also started to refurbish
In 1985 another decision was reached to solely sell and
produce fire apparatus and distribute firefighting related equipment. At this
time the GK logo came into being. Clarke's son Craig, one of four children, had
joined the business and in 1986 they, father & son, bought the remaining
stock and Gowans-Knight became a family business.
Clarke's life has
been one of dedication, not only to his family, but to firefighters both as a
designer / builder of fire apparatus and as a volunteer firefighter. Clarke
joined the Watertown Fire Department in April 1953, became a Lieutenant on
Engine 6 in 1955 and a Captain on Engine 5 in 1958; Clarke transferred to
Veteran Status in 1974. He will be greatly missed by his family, all here at
Gowans-Knight, and the Watertown Fire Department.