Honoring Our Front-Line Heroes

This fall, the Scottish Rite, NMJ is honoring our first responders. Our Brothers who serve and save others truly exemplify our core value of Service to Humanity. From the September 11 attacks to the COVID-19 global pandemic, first responders have always been the front-line heroes of our communities. Each week, we’ll be sharing their stories and celebrating their service.

Meet Brother Robert Pursley, 32°: Fire Chief

Discover more stories like Robert’s when you request a member of our First Responders Speakers Bureau to present at one of your Masonic events.

Brother Robert L. Pursley, Jr., PhD and 32° Scottish Rite Mason from the Valley of Akron was sworn in as the Barberton Fire Chief in April 2020.

He began his more than 32-year career in a small combination fire department as a part-time firefighter/paramedic and was hired full time by the Barberton Fire Department in 1992. He rose consistently through the ranks, with a promotion to Lieutenant in 1998 and Captain/Shift Commander in 2013.

A photo of Fire Chief Robert Pursley in uniform
Brother Robert Pursley in uniform

Chief Pursley has also served the department as chairperson of the Safety Committee, a worker’s compensation representative, grant writer, and vice president of Barberton Firefighters Association. He was also a member of the Summit County Technical Rescue Operations Team for more than 22 years; and from 2002-2015, a member of Ohio Task Force 1. While serving on one of the federal Urban Search and Rescue Teams in the United States, he held several positions including: Rescue Specialist, Rescue Squad Officer, and Technical Information Specialist.

In addition, Chief Pursley spends time as the Lead Fire Instructor for the University of Akron and the Barberton Fire Department and continues to give back to his community by providing lectures on fire safety and community relations.

His selfless commitment to service has earned him a number of distinctions over the years, including:

  • City of Barberton Employee of the Year, 2015
  • Barberton Fire Department Letter of Commendation, 2015
  • Kiwanis Outstanding Service Award, September 2004
  • Rotary Club of Barberton Service Above Self Award, May 2001
  • Akron Children’s Hospital Squad of the Year Award, May 2001
  • State of Ohio Letter of Commendation, August 2001
  • Barberton Fire Department Letter of Commendation, May 2001
  • City of Barberton Formal Recognition of Service Award, 1999


We humbly thank Brother Pursley for his heroic efforts and continued service.

First Responders Speakers Bureau

We have many first responders among our Scottish Rite brethren. Learn more about these brave men of courage and service in our series of profiles we will feature this fall. In fact, a First Responders Speakers Bureau has been established, and our Brothers profiled here are just a few who are available by request to present at your local event.

Visit the Leadership Resource Center where you can download the Speakers Bureau Directory which lists the available speakers in your state.