Longtime Maine fire chief dies of cancer

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By FireRescue1 Staff

MEXICO, Maine — Colleagues gathered at the Mexico fire station Sunday to mourn the death of a fire chief.

Mexico Fire Chief Gary Wentzell died Sunday after being diagnosed with cancer in October 2016, reported the Sun Journal. He served as chief for 25 years.

After receiving news of Chief Wentzell’s death, firefighters gathered at the station to share stories and memories.

“He wasn’t just a fire chief, especially to me,” firefighter Mike Chartier said. “He was like another father. Not just the fire department stuff, but my personal life. He’d come down for anything. I know I’ve been through a lot with him.”

The department had scheduled a head-shaving benefit for Chief Wentzell Jan. 21. Some firefighters still plan to shave their heads as a tribute.

“Gary ended up losing all his hair. Then we thought, maybe it would be a good way to raise money,” firefighter Jamee Theriault said. “It’s about togetherness — we’re like a big family.”

A benefit meal is scheduled for Jan. 28 in honor of Chief Wentzell.

“We’d always have fun, but when that bell goes off, it’s all business,” firefighter Mat Theriault said. “That’s the way he taught us, how he allowed it. That’s the way we did it. We were just close.”

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