Submitted by his wife
Kevin Michael Shea was a man who embraced everything he did or was part of with a passion known to only a few. A good man who lived life to its fullest. Kevin worked hard and played hard‚ but only after he was sure that everyone else was taken care of. His presence made you feel secure. If something was wrong you knew it would be OK once Kevin got there. He focused on the positive things‚ the good things‚ leaving anyone he talked with in higher spirits.
A devoted husband to Kathy‚ loving father to Kelly‚ brother & friend to Jim & Jeri and Brian & Susan‚ ‘Uncle Kevin’ to the Shea & Malone kids and favorite brother-in-law. To every member of the Elsmere Fire Company he was a leader‚ mentor‚ teacher‚ big brother and friend. And to the Town of Bethlehem he was a friend and community leader always available to do whatever was needed. Kevin held his large ‘extended family’ close to his heart. If you were lucky enough to be a part of that family‚ you were loved by Kevin. His friendship was binding‚ his loyalty unwavering and his understanding unconditional.
Kevin was born on November 5‚ 1949 to Jim and Rose Laraia Shea. He and his brothers grew up in a firefighting family. Everyone participated in parades and family functions at Elsmere Fire Company A in Elsmere NY. Kevin joined the Elsmere Fire Company in 1974‚ beginning 30 years of unwavering devotion to the fire service and the brotherhood of firefighters. Rising through the ranks of the fire company‚ Kevin was appointed Assistant Chief in 1992 and attained the top leadership position of Chief in January 2004.
Whether responding to a call in the middle of the night or preparing the annual spaghetti dinner‚ Kevin was the first to arrive and the last to leave. Co-founder‚ enthusiastic member and coach of the award winning firematic racing team‚ The Wanderers‚ Kevin‚ his teammates and their families spent endless summer weekends competing across New York State. Kevin never shied away from doing any job needed at the firehouse. Teaching new members the ropes‚ he generously shared his time‚ wealth of knowledge and experience. Recognizing a need for a specialized hazardous materials handling team‚ he was instrumental in the creation of his ‘baby’ Squad 33‚ the first HazMat service in the Town of Bethlehem. Kevin was a progressive Fire Chief who constantly brought forth new ideas and concepts to his beloved fire community.
One of Kevin’s most enjoyable duties was his annual fall trip to pre-schools and kindergartens where he would teach fire safety to the kids. Using his child size fire gear and apparatus‚ Kevin taught them basic fire safety techniques and ensured that hundreds of children understood that the firefighter was their friend. Kevin also served on many town‚ county and state association committees and was an active member of the Governor’s Task Force to bring 911 service to Albany County. Wherever he went and to whomever he spoke‚ Kevin never let an opportunity pass by to tell someone about ‘his Fire Company and His Firefighters’. Most importantly‚ he cared for his firefighters‚ loved and protected them.
Kevin’s devotion and passion for helping others carried over to his profession as the Head Code Enforcement Officer for the Town of Bethlehem. He made sure that jobs were done by the book‚ but instead of simply enforcing the process Kevin helped the individual through the process. He served as president of the New York Building Officials Conference and received the NYSBOC Man of the Year Award in 1998. Kevin was also Director of the Eastern States Building Federation. A strong advocate of education and enforcement‚ he worked tirelessly to ensure the adoption of a modern New York State Building & Fire Code. Kevin was well known in his profession as a teacher and consensus builder‚ facilitating communication between groups to reach a common goal.
Kevin was an active‚ fun loving person. His greatest pleasure was cooking for his family and friends. An excellent chef‚ Kevin and Kathy hosted many wonderful gatherings. Kevin always provided delicious food‚ good wine and raucous conversation‚ with extra chairs at the table for new acquaintances or unexpected guests. He loved hockey‚ football‚ NASCAR and his favorite soap ‘The Young & the Restless’. Kevin was an avid and vocal fan of the NJ Devils‚ NY Giants and NASCAR’s Bill Elliott. Kevin was also proud of his involvement with the Son’s of the American Legion.
The Shea’s & friends also loved vacationing on the beaches of North Carolina and the Outer Banks. Kevin was a devoted sun worshipper who liked nothing more than spending the day stretched out on the beach‚ followed by a cold beer and one of his home cooked feasts. Even when forced to flee by hurricane force winds the Shea family vacation was always ‘wonderful’.
Kevin Michael Shea truly lived a life of service to his community‚ both in his profession as a town official and his beloved vocation as a volunteer Firefighter with the Elsmere Fire Company. Kevin responded to his last call on January 24‚ 2004. He departed this life doing what he loved most‚ helping those in need.
AWARDS & RECOGNITION:Firefighter of the Year – 1992
Recognition of Support for the 9/11 WTC Response – 2001
Chief of Elsmere Fire Company – 2004
Firefighter of the Year – 2004
NYSBOC Kevin M. Shea Scholarship – 2004
Kevin M. Shea Community Service Award‚ Son’s of the American Legion‚ Bethlehem Central H.S. – 2005
Kevin M. Shea Community Service Grant‚ Arbor Hill School – 2005