Firefighting brothers die hours apart

Cranberry VFC left 'devastated'

January 10, 2020 Cranberry Local News


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CRANBERRY TWP — Brothers Mark and Lee Nanna joined the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company on the same day in 1991.

They rose through the ranks together. Lee Nanna served as VFC president during 1996 and 1997, and Mark Nanna as fire chief from 2001 to 2004.

Lee Nanna was the township's emergency management coordinator for 11 years; Mark Nanna succeeded him in 2017.

On Wednesday evening, Mark Nanna died at age 57. On Thursday morning, just hours later, his brother Lee died at age 69.

The dual loss heavily affected the fire company.

“They're just devastated,” said Amy Behun, fire administrator. “It was unexpected to lose one, but to lose both in such a short period of time? Devastating and heartbreaking.”

The department said in a Thursday Facebook post that the brothers “embodied service to others through their lives and dedication to the fire service and their community.”

Township Manager Jerry Andree agreed.

“Mark and Lee defined community service, dedicating their lives to making their community safer,” he said. “The township is better because of their service. Our thoughts are with their families.”

Both brothers still were active in the fire company, where, Behun said, they had a positive presence among its members.

“Both of them would give you their shirt off their back. They would do anything for anybody,” she said. “They had such big hearts, loved to have a good time. Always joking, always smiling. They even made you laugh at yourself.”

In their nearly 29 years with the department, Behun said, they contributed beyond responding to calls. Lee Nanna, along with his wife, Ruth, started a fundraiser to purchase Christmas gifts for underprivileged families. They would collect donations at VFC meetings and hold 50/50 contests. Then, they'd head out to buy and wrap the presents.

“Lee didn't want the publicity that he did this, so we never put it out there ... but it was very near and dear to his heart,” Behun said.

Mark Nanna also served as fire prevention administrator for the township's building and zoning codes department.

Memorial arrangements have not been made, but Behun said other longtime members of the fire company are working with the families to facilitate plans. She said the VFC is coming together to help the families.

“We're all looking out for each other right now,” she said.

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Alex Weidenhof

Alex Weidenhof