Former Chilmark Fire Chief David Norton received a catered retirement party Wednesday night at the Chilmark Community Center. Norton, who served half a century on the department, has passed his chief’s helmet to Jeremy Bradshaw, former assistant chief. Firefighters, family, and friends enjoyed everything from oysters and cherrystones on the half shell to cupcakes crowned with tiny flames as part of Norton’s celebration. Among the gifts Norton received was a gag walker painted red, strung with lights, and with a sign reading “Retired Fire Chief.”
An emotional Norton told the crowd of well-wishers the fire department is in good hand with Bradshaw, whom he described as a “gentle giant.”
“If you get stressed out,” Norton said to Bradshaw, “call me. I may be in the Caribbean or snowmobiling.”
“It’s been a pleasure to work with you all,” Norton told those gathered, “and thank you for putting up with me. And God bless you all and take care and be safe.”
Bradshaw praised his former boss. “He’s been awesome to work for. We’re not letting him go. He’s still a call firefighter. I made him a captain.”
Bradshaw went on to say that now Norton has time to go snowmobiling and clamming, and to generally enjoy a retirement he greatly deserves, one absent alarm calls.
Assistant Fire Chief Gary Robinson called Norton the “heart and soul” of the fire department for decades. “We’re going to miss him, but he’s not going away,” he said. “He’s going to stay and help. He’s a godsend. He’s a resource we all use. We can’t say enough thank-yous to him.”
“We know he’s not leaving,” Deputy Fire Chief Tim Carroll said. “He’s going to stick around and still help out. So this is just the beginning of a new chapter.”