Wilbur A. Ritter
Sayville Fire Department‚ Sayville New York
Rank: Honorary Captain/ Fire Police Ex-Captain
Date of Death: August 28‚ 2006
Wilbur was a man committed to helping people in whatever capacity he could‚ and his devotion to his family‚ the Sayville Fire Department‚ and numerous firematic organizations were a testament to the remarkable type of person that he was. He joined the Sayville Fire Department in 1947 and dedicated nearly 60 years to his department and community. Following in his father’s footsteps‚ he was an active yet humble firefighter who could be counted on to help with anything that was asked of him.
His family was extremely important to him as well. His wife Evelyn and sons Michael and Peter formed the backbone of his existence. His insistence on taking care of his parents upon his honorable discharge from the Army led him to a long bachelorhood and favorite son status with his mother. Wilbur could remember every family member and their relations without hesitation‚ and was constantly sharing the information. He believed that knowing one’s history would guide their future in the right direction.
Wilbur was neither a line officer nor Chief‚ but he commanded the respect of all members young and old with his willingness to do all of the necessary work but not accept any of the acclaim. He served as Resolute Hose Company Treasurer for 35 years‚ Department President for two separate terms and finally went on to become Fire Police Captain. Neither age nor health could withhold him from responding‚ and many times he had to be reminded that he had fulfilled all requirements and could relax. Even prostate cancer did not prevent him from his duties‚ and only convinced him to do more once he overcame it.
His commitment to local volunteer fire organizations was equally as important to him‚ and he rose up to become Suffolk County Volunteer Firemen’s Association President and FASNY Trustee. He served as Secretary and Treasurer of numerous organizations for a few decades‚ often juggling bankbooks and meeting minutes while taking on more tasks. Traveling several hours for meetings and conventions was common and he thoroughly enjoyed the time he spent doing it.
Wilbur suffered a fatal heart attack on August 28‚ 2006 while responding to a reported roof emergency. Even in his time of need he was most concerned about the posters going up for the blood drive he ran and making sure that his faithful dog Shadow would get walked. He was named Sayville Fire Department’s 2006 Fireman of the Year.
Everyone who knew Wilbur will forever remember his wonderful demeanor‚ always smiling and telling jokes that weren’t the best‚ but however were well-intended. His humility and enthusiasm for life were his finest qualities and he will always be dearly missed by all whose lives he touched.