WALTHAM — Ralph Jackman, who recently resigned after 62 years with the Vergennes Volunteer Fire Department, 55 as its chief, died at his Waltham home on Saturday morning. Jackman, who had stepped down as chief on Nov. 1 because of his declining health, was 85.
Jackman also served with distinction with the U.S. Army in World War II; was known as a tireless community volunteer in the Vergennes area, notably in the Meals on Wheels program; was believed to have been the longest-serving fire chief in the U.S.; and made statewide contributions to the fire service.
City and state officials credited Jackman with helping make the Vergennes fire department one of the most effective in Vermont, in particular citing his vision in improving training and equipment to keep up with modern standards. The department also built and regularly upgraded a new fire station during his tenure, and Jackman was known for keeping tight control on department spending.
Jackman’s funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Vergennes. Burial will follow at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Bristol.
The Vergennes fire department on Green Street will host viewing hours on Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. Vergennes Mayor Michael Daniels said Jackman’s family also planned to host a gathering in Jackman’s honor on Wednesday afternoon at the Addison County Eagles Club on Green Street in Vergennes.
The Independent will publish a full obituary and a look back at Jackman’s career in its Thursday edition.