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Honoring RBFD Chief John Abbatemarco

posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 03:50PM
Pasquale Menna

The Borough of Red Bank is in mourning to recall the life of former Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Abbatemarco (1973), and flags at municipal facilities are ordered at half-staff until the funeral on Monday, January 20, 2014.

It has been my special grace to have known John most of my adolescent and adult years, and I am a better person for having been the recipient of his accumulated years of local history, judgment and calm, dignified wisdom. The Department has lost one of its most beloved former chiefs, one who has provided inspiration and balance to so many companies and succeeding chiefs of the volunteer Fire services.

John was special not because he was a Chief, but because of his unaffected dignity and his ability to connect with everyone.  His former barbershop was the meeting place every afternoon for the hottest information before the age of tweets and Facebook.  It was not digital information, but personal, with a smile and a few colorful words bantered in good cheer.  His shop was the gathering place of so many, including those who just did not have family and friends.  He welcomed them all with genuine warmth. 

He was the same to the younger generations of firefighters.  To them, he was “Johnny A”, but to him, they were his “kids”.  His pride was evident till his last breath.  How wonderful it was to witness the outpouring of affection and attention by so many young volunteers who gathered at his bedside to stand with him and to pray during his last illness.  He was indeed a second father to many, and he was proud of that title.

May the Angels lead him into Paradise and let us thank God that we have been privileged to have been touched by him.

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