(December 1, 2021) - Last Monday, in the Legislative Council chambers at Hamden's Memorial Town Hall, a reception was held to honor and say "farewell" to nearly one-tenth of Hamden Fire Department personnel, who are newly retired as of this morning. Scores of department members, family, friends, and about 1/5 of the HFRA's 80+ membership attended (90+ as of today).
In remarks before the crowd, Chief Gary Merwede observed with a certain degree of poignancy, "To each and every one of you, thank you for your years of service, for your dedication to this department and the citizens of Hamden. You have each contributed your best in your own way, and this department is better because of your service. You will be missed."
He also noted that the next retirement dinner, the first since 2019 because of COVID, "will be a record breaker." Indeed, this number of retirements in a single month is a record, topping the previous record breakers of June 2006, when seven retired, and June 1993 when five retired.
The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association also extend our thanks to our former colleagues for their service to the department and to the Town. We welcome them into our Association and hope their years of retirement are long and happy ones.
* Scores of colleagues, family, friends and almost 1/5 the 80+ HFRA membership
Recognizing Nearly 250 Years of Service
Asst. Chief Charles Lubowicki 21.16 years
Batt. Chief John Spencer 34.81 years
Capt. Edwin Evers 24.25 years
Capt. Bernard Amatrudo 34.19 years
Capt. Gregory Bannon 22.75 years
Lt. Jay Matthews 21.76 years
Fire Insp. Paul Turner 25.72 years
Ff. Mike DeLine Sr 21.16 years
Ff. Victor Jackson 21.16 years
Ff. Kim Talmadge 21.01 years (Retired 10/4/2021)
Below: Chief Gary Merwede posed Monday with eight of the soon-to-be former active department members.
* L-R: Chief Gary Merwede, B/C John Spencer, Capt. Bernie Amatrudo, Ff. Mike DeLine Jr., Asst. Chief Charles Lubowicki, Ff. Kim Talmadge, Fire Insp. Paul Turner, Capt. Ed Evers, and Lieut. Jay Matthews.
At left, brand new HFRA members B/C Spencer and Capt. Amatrudo, the two most senior retirees, were presented with their membership cards by HFRA president Bob Mordecai. Together, those two new retirees logged nearly 7 decades on the job.
At right, Bob presents Kim Talmadge with her HFRA membership card. Kim, the department's third female career firefighter, joins as the third female regular member of the HFRA.
At left, Chief Merwede and former Chief Jim Leddy. At right, Local 2687 Pres. Dave Beaton and former Asst. Chief Bob Surprise, as Asst. Chief Charlie Lubowicki chats with former Chief Dave Berardesca.
At left, Chief Merwede with former Hamden Town Clerk Vera Morrison, a very special friend of the HFD, on her first day of retirement following her own record-breaking 26-year stint as Hamden's legal keeper of the flame, so to speak. No one has served longer. At right, Chick Manware, Kevin Shields, and Johnny O'Dea. Department events like these, along with swearing-in ceremonies, are also an opportunity for retirees to keep tabs.
At left, Donny LaBanca and Dave Beaton. At right, John Spencer, his mom Helen, and John's youngest daughter Lauren. John's dad, Ret. Commander (B/C) Gil Spencer is nursing a leg infection and was unable to attend. Gil and John represented 64 continuous years of career service in the HFD (1957-2021). When volunteer fire service is also included, John, his dad, his grandfather, and great-grandfather represent combined service of more than 180 years in the HFD. Quite a lineage.
At left, this beautiful cake honoring the ten retirees was created by Cindy Turner, mother of retiring Fire Inspector Paul Turner. NICE! At right is retired Asst. Supt. Harold Mangler, conversing with Mrs.Turner and other Turner family members.