Cherished chief: Ray Fisher retires after 56 years fighting fires in Boscawen

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  • Boscawen fire Chief Ray Fisher gets a hug from Stacey McNeil of Loudon at his retirement party at the town’s fire station Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Boscawen fire chief Ray Fisher gets greeted by Shirley McKerley at his retirement party at the fire station on Saturday, March 9, 2019. The line was out the door to meet the chief. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Boscawen fire chief Ray Fisher holds back the tears as he gets a hug from Stacey McNeil of Loudon at his retirement party at the fire station on Saturday, March 9, 2019. McNeil has known the chief her whole life. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Retiring Boscawen fire chief Ray Fisher sits in a chair given to him during his retirement party at the fire station on Saturday, March 9, 2019. His son Mike quipped, “I don’t why we've given him a chair, he never sits down.” GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Boscawen fire chief Ray Fisher receives a plaque from the New Hampshire Deputy State Fire Marshal Sean Toomey (right) honoring his 56-year service at his retirement party at the fire department on Saturday, March 9, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Boscawen fire Chief Ray Fisher is greeted by his self-proclaimed work wife, Mary Porter, during his retirement party at the fire station Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/11/2019 6:12:00 PM

Ray Fisher never stopped working for the town of Boscawen.

From the time the future chief joined his hometown volunteer fire department at age 22, he was one of the most dedicated firefighters the town ever had – chasing fire trucks no matter the time of day or night, volunteering to cook chicken at the firefighter’s annual town barbecue and eventually working as the Boscawen life safety officer.

Even this past year, at age 80, Fisher made it to more than 70 percent of Boscawen’s almost 200 fire calls, a higher number than every other volunteer, said Fisher’s son Mike, who is also a volunteer firefighter in Boscawen.

His father once even called in from his hospital bed after surgery to ask his team how they were faring with a barn fire in town, Mike told a laughing crowd at the fire department on Saturday.

“The man was dedicated,” Mike said, with a smile.

After 56 years with the department, Tuesday marked the Boscawen fire chief’s official retirement. A group crowded into the town’s recreation hall on Saturday – decorated with red tablecloths and vases of white carnations – to give him a proper sendoff.

Fisher was given a plaque from New Hampshire Deputy State Fire Marshal Sean Toomey and an engraved wooden chair from the town.

“I don’t know why we’ve given him a chair; he never sits down,” Mike said, to more laughs from the crowd.

During his speech about his father, his son said Fisher dedicated his life to the department. He pointed to the recreation hall, the very location of the celebration.

“This room right here that you’re standing in, he built it,” Mike said. “He led the charge, and there was not one cent of the town’s money (to support the project). It was all donations.”

Mike became emotional as he turned to his father to give him a hug.

“We’re going to miss him, but he’s still going to be here,” Mike said. “My best friend: chief of Boscawen.”

After his son was done speaking, Fisher stood up and looked at the group with teary eyes and waved his hand at the crowd.

“No, I can’t,” he said, trying to divert the attention away from himself and signaling to the crowd to continue the festivities. “Carry on.”

A line of people waited to talk with him and embrace him.

Fisher is being replaced by Timothy Kenney, a Boscawen native who has worked as a battalion chief with the Salem Fire Department. Kenney will continue Fisher’s tradition of being a volunteer fire chief – something Town Administrator Alan Hardy said members of the department said was an important legacy to honor.

Back when Fisher announced his retirement in November, Hardy said his absence would be one of the biggest transitions the fire department has had in recent years.

“There are some who look at that retirement date as an opportunity to go sit on a beach somewhere, but Ray is about service,” he said. “This is going to be a significant change.”

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, lwillingham@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)




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