Former China fire chief remembered

by Dale Worster

Former China Fire Chief George Studley

It is with greatest of regrets and the heaviest of hearts, the China Village Volunteer Fire Department honors the memory of our good friend and former Chief of 35 years – George Studley.

While it can be a challenge to find the right words to convey how much someone will be missed, no matter what I put in print today, I am going to fall terribly short on conveying what George meant to the China Village Volunteer Fire Department. Joining the China Village Department in 1967 and becoming chief in 1977. George led by example, by working the problem and simply getting things done. Whether it was showing a “newbie” to the department – how to run equipment or if he was trudging fire hose through deep snow to save a home, he was a glowing example of what each of us are losing, each time one more of ‘The Greatest Generation’ slips away.

Over the 50 years George responded to fires, car accidents, rescue calls, community events, etc…. he truly was and still is the heart and soul of the China Village Fire Department. I can’t imagine how someone might try and account for all of the lives he touched in those 50 years, unselfishly giving thousands & thousands of hours of his time to the people and families in our community. In his 70s George was still quick to reply to a fire tone/page and also, very frequently, the first on-scene.

I can say with all honesty that George was one of those very few folks that you meet and not only instantly liked, but simply enjoyed being around. He had a witty way of stating his opinion on many things and was kind to those who didn’t necessarily share his point of view. If you weren’t close, he was a courteous person with his opinion and respected yours. If you were a friend, he had his own unique and thoughtful way of courteously conveying how wrong you were. I was always pleased to have chance meetings with people who knew George – whether I had on a China Fire T-shirt or someone saw my plate, it was always a pleasure when someone would say – “Oh, You must know George!,” and friendly smirk would appear on their face. I might reply with a grin: “Yes, unfortunately – I do.” and our laugher would last a short while.

Often, we would follow-up with short stories of George and how we knew him. At a recent car accident, another firefighter was sharing how he had come up onto a fire scene years earlier and he was trying to make out a blurry image showing from the fading smoke – – it was George, walking out of the smoke, wearing only his shorts and fire boots. I can’t think of a better analogy to describe George’s ability to answer the call while also, maintaining the unique style of Mr. George Studley.

While I don’t have the long history that most in China had with George, nor the amount of stories that many folks hold in their memories and hearts, in the six years I knew him, I’m thankful to have had the privilege to know him and to call him friend. As word spreads of this unfortunate news, I encourage everyone to share their stories of George, because in them, we all get to have George in our lives a while longer, even if he won’t be there to laugh along with us. I do have faith that George and Sheldon, (his best friend of many, many years who passed recently) are once again, sharing their morning coffee and catching up on who’s doing what in town and discussing what they’ll be doing together, this upcoming weekend.

Please, join me in spirit and in the memory of George, as the CVVFD must again, ring the bell three times – which in the fire service, signifies the end of a shift and George’s completion of duties with the China Village Volunteer Fire Department.

In closing, I wish that I was somehow able to really convey to everyone, what George meant to me in the short time I knew him and how very much I’m going to miss him. I think the best I can do, is to say with all honesty: I couldn’t be more pleased or proud, if my own grandson grew up to be just like George Studley.

The Firefighter’s Prayer
– Author Unknown –

When I am called to duty, God,
wherever flames may rage,
give me strength to save a life,
whatever be its age.
Help me embrace a little child
before it is too late,
or save an older person from
the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert,
and hear the weakest shout,
quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling,
to give the best in me,
to guard my friend and neighbor,
and protect his property.
And if according to Your will
I must answer death’s call,
bless with your protecting hand,
my children, my wife, one and all.

A celebration of George’s life will be held at the China Conference Center, 283 Neck Rd., China, on Sunday, August 27, beginning at 1 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to the China Village Volunteer Fire Dept., PO Box 6035, China Village, ME 04926.

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