Scores of active and retired department members, as well as many friends and family members of Chief Gary Merwede gathered in the Legislative Council chambers at Memorial Town Hall last Friday to join in a poignant farewell for a truly beloved and respected colleague.
Here is a sampler of the photos that commemorated the occasion. Check out the farewell video of Chief Merwede being escorted to Squad One by pipers for his final ride home as Chief of the Department.
CLICK HERE to view Chief Merwede's short and poignant farewell to his active and retired department members in which he observed, "This mission of ours is bigger than any one person."
Mayor Lauren Garrett, "The Chief has been our rudder through tornadoes, hurricanes, tropical storms, and a global pandemic . . ."
With Dep. Fire Marshal Nelson Hwang, V.P. of Local 2687, one of the many positions held by Chief Merwede during his tenure as a union member. Indeed, Chief Merwede held every elected position in Local 2687, retiring as its president before becoming Assistant Fire Chief in 2013.
With his predecessor, retired Chief Dave Berardesca, who was in the crowd. Chief B is a regular at HFRA meetings (hint, hint Chief M).
Retired Lt. Jimmy Dunlop, retired B/C Don LaBanca, and retired Asst. Chief Bob Surprise and his wife Debby.
Retired Capt./T.O. John O'Dea with B/C Ron Desroches (the most senior department member), along with retired Ff. Kevin Sheilds and retired Supt. of Apparatus Don Buechele.
Mrs. Webmeister was there too . . .
. . . as was old friend Sue Hartley, granddaughter of legendary Hamden politician and historian Rachel Hartley.
HFRA Vice President, retired B/C Bill Fitzmaurice, presented the Chief with his 2022 Association membership card.
Finally, after all of the speeches and well-wishes, pipers escorted Chief Merwede to Squad One, waiting for him on Whitney Avenue in front of Hamden's Memorial Town Hall. Lieut. Craig Smart and his crew provided the Chief with a ride to his home and "civilianhood."
After arriving home on Squad One, Chief Merwede was flanked by Lieut. Craig Smart and other SQ1 personnel. It had been nearly ten years since the chief was a company officer and sat in the rider's seat on that piece.
Godspeed, Chief. "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."