HUDSON — An estimated 200 people gathered in Bangor and Hudson on Monday to pay their respects to a former fire chief whose volunteer service to his community spanned 36 years.
Ronald Grant, who died unexpectedly Thursday at the age of 74, played a key role in founding the Hudson Volunteer Fire Department in 1975, serving as its chief in 1990. An auto body man by trade, Grant also painted and helped maintain the department’s vehicles in the early years.
Grant, however, likely will be best remembered for organizing firefighter musters over the years, according to Hudson’s fire chief, Michael Simmons.
Grant, who moved to Hudson from Bangor after graduating from Bangor High School and marrying his sweetheart, Betty Palmer, remained involved with the department until the time of his death and was the last surviving founding member, said his son William Grant of Hudson, who joined the department at age 13 and went on to become a chief himself from 2007 through 2010.
“I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps,” said Grant, who spent many hours at the firehouse with his father and his mother, who also was a firefighter. “Another thing that Dad was very proud of is that one of his grandsons [Kenneth Grant Jr. of Kenduskeag] also is in the fire service,” he said.
Besides Grant’s family and friends, mourners included firefighters and emergency medical personnel from throughout the area, including a firefighter who traveled the distance from the Lincoln County town of Dresden, William Grant said.
“Dad would have been very pleased with the service itself,” William Grant said. “Dad was not a complicated man and these services can get kind of formal. That wasn’t what Dad wanted.
“Even though he passed unexpectedly, he had told us what he wanted. He wanted to bring people together,” he said. “He wanted people to have a good time. He didn’t want any boo-hooing.”
After the funeral service at Brookings-Smith in Bangor, mourners formed a motorcade to a reception at the Hudson Town Hall, which otherwise would have been closed in observance of Martin Luther King Day.
Along the way, the motorcade paused in front of the Hudson fire station to remember Grant, whose turnout gear, including coat, boots and helmet, were set in front of the bay door, along with a firetruck pedal car, William Grant said.
“They rang his number, 57, five blasts, a pause and then seven blasts,” Grant said. “As that was taking place, I was saluting him,” said Grant, who wore his dress firefighter uniform to Monday’s observances.
So that Hudson’s firefighters could pay their respects to their former chief, a six-member crew from Dexter brought a truck to Hudson and provided fire coverage for the afternoon, Grant said.
In addition to Betty, his wife of 53 years, and son William, Grant is survived by daughters Ida Dort, Julie Paschal and Brenda Grant, and sons James Grant and Kenneth Grant as well as 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Those who want to remember Grant in a special way may make gifts in his name to Susan G. Komen for the Cure Maine Affiliate, P.O. Box 1626 Bangor 04402-1626 or Hudson Volunteer Fire Department, 2334 Hudson Road, Hudson 04449.