We regret to announce the passing of Grace E. LaBanca, on Saturday, February 22nd at her Killingworth home with her family by her side. Grace was the mother of our brother retiree Donald LaBanca.
The visiting hours will be Wednesday morning, February 26th from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the North Haven Funeral Home, 36 Washington Avenue. A Catholic funeral service will be conducted in the funeral home at 11:00 with the Rev. Timothy Meehan officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 200 Executive Blvd. Suite 4B, Southington, CT 06489.www.northhavenfuneral.com
Last Monday, February 10th was a special day for the Hamden Fire Department, with the swearing-in of the department's two newest fire inspectors, Firefighters Paul Turn and Raymond Pouncey, and the swearing-in of four new recruits, three of whom having deep roots in the fire service.
Hamden's four newest firefighters, left to right, Firefighter Terry Gould, Firefighter William Fitzmaurice Jr, Firefighter Timothy Deskin, and Firefighter Harley Pretty. At right, the four are sworn in by Hamden Town Clerk Vera Morrison.
The four recruits fill personnel vacancies created by retirements since August 2018. Recruit Firefighter William Fitzmaurice Jr. is the son of retired Hamden Battalion Chief William Fitzmaurice Sr., who joined the department in 1987. Recruit Firefighter Terry Gould is the son of retired New Haven Deputy Chief William Gould, who got his fire service start with Hamden's Dunbar Hill Company No. 8. in the early 1980s.
We are deeply saddened to report the passing in Littleton, New Hampshire on Wednesday, February 12th, of retired Firefighter Harold Prescher, 67, who served on the department from January 1981 until the progression of multiple sclerosis eventually forced his retirement in August 1998.
Harold was born in Southington, Connecticut on July 1, 1952, to Harold R. and Alice J. (Heywood) Prescher. He grew up in Southington and attended public schools while working at the IGA his parents owned. He went on to work for many years at Bristol Hospital as a Paramedic and later for the Hamden Fire Department as a firefighter and paramedic until his retirement.
As a recruit firefighter in 1981, Firefighter/Paramedic Prescher was solely responsible for the introduction of the department's street map books that are still in use by all department members today. In the nearly forty years since their introduction, the map books that Harold created have undoubtedly made responses quicker, safer, and more effective.
Harold moved to New Hampshire in 2005, first in Haverhill and then to Littleton in 2008. He enjoyed the outdoors, especially hiking in the White Mountains and fishing in the many ponds and streams in the area. He was a fan of NASCAR and enjoyed watching the races on TV.
Harold was predeceased by his parents. He is survived by his wife Laurie (Davison) Prescher of Littleton, a son Dustin Prescher of East Hartford, CT, a sister Barbara Prescher of FL, and the mother of his son, Betty Bonnenfant.
Visiting hours will be Saturday, February 15, 2020, from 12-2 PM with a concluding memorial service at 2 at Ross Funeral Home, 282 West Main St. Littleton, NH. Interment will be at the South End Cemetery in Southington, CT at the convenience of the family.
An outstanding firefighter, and a joy to work with, Harold's humor and grace in the face of a debilitating illness endeared him to all of us. A tribute to Ff. Prescher will be posted on the HFRA website within the next day or so.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Harold's wife Laurie and his son Dustin at this sad time.
Posted 2/13/2020 - 1000 hrs.
Some of the above information was gleaned from Firefighter Prescher's obituary published by the Ross Funeral Home in Littleton, New Hampshire, the complete text of which may be read by CLICKING HERE.
Noted Fire Service Historian and Friend to the HFRA Website
The website wishes to acknowledge the passing of Commissioner William C. Celentano Jr. (NHFD), who was a noted fire service historian and longtime Commissioner with the City of New Haven Fire Department. A lifelong New Haven resident, Commissioner Celentano passed away peacefully, after a brief illness on February 11, 2020 with his entire family by his side.
Born in New Haven April 25, 1938, he was the son of the late Mayor William C. Celentano and Marian Piontek Celentano. The New Haven Fire Department was his true passion since spending time at Engine 3 on Park and Elm St. as a young man. As Secretary and then President of Box 22 Associates, he coordinated the implementation of the Box 22 Firefighters Emergency Canteen which he personally drove to multiple alarm fires at all hours of the day and night to serve refreshments to the tired men and women of the New Haven Fire Dept. which he referred to as his extended family. Eventually he received the Civilian Award from Local 825, the highest honor a person could receive from outside Fire Service. The Commissioner also served on the New Haven Fire and Police Pension Board, Hospital of St. Raphael Foundation, Greater New Haven Jaycees, the International Fire Buffs Assoc., and co-authored the book of New Haven Firefighters, published by Arcadia in their "Images of America" series.
Commissioner Celentano was a friend of the HFRA website, generously contributing to this website numerous vintage fire service images from his extensive collection over the last decade. The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association extend our sincere condolences to the Celenatno family and to our brothers and sisters, active and retired, of the New Haven Fire Department.
Friends and family are invited to pay their respects at our funeral home which he ran tirelessly, the Celentano Funeral Home, 424 Elm St., New Haven on Sunday from 3-7 p.m. and are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial in Saint Bernadette Church Monday at 10:00 a.m. Interment will follow in St. Lawrence Cemetery. CLICK HERE to read Commissioner Celetano's complete obituary, published today in The New Haven Register.
Badge #1 Senior Ff. Paczowski and Chief Merwede - CLICK to enlarge
The Chief continued, "Every fire officer, from the newly minted lieutenant to the chief-of-department understands that this job runs on the example set by senior members. In fact, most chiefs will tell you that just as often as new recruits are placed with senior firefighters to learn the trade, so too are new lieutenants placed in the same houses to depend on the informal leadership of journeymen firefighters, those who know the job inside and out."
The tradition of issuing Badge No. 1 to the department's most senior firefighter was resurrected several years ago by Chief David Berardesca after the department's numbered badges had been discontinued for about twenty-five years. Firefighter Jay Connolly, now retired, was the first recipient followed by Kurt Vogt, who recently traded the "1" on his firefighter's badge for the one trumpet on his new lieutenant's badge.
Your retired brothers and sisters congratulate you, Senior Firefighter Paczowski, as the department's new holder of ceremonial Badge No. 1. Wear it in good health, Don - and be safe!