WILTON — Two days after meeting his final goal of participating in the Wilton Blueberry Festival, Deputy Fire Chief Kendall Burdin passed away Monday.

“He was ecstatic Saturday. It was good for all of us to see,” said Burdin’s friend, co-firefighter and now Deputy Chief Tom Doak on Tuesday. “He was given two to four weeks but lasted six to seven. Some internal thing kept him ticking to get through his goal.”

Burdin drove the department’s 1929 Model A fire truck through the festival’s parade and then started events for the Firemen’s Muster. Burdin was instrumental in the restoration of the truck and it was his “pride and joy,” Doak said. As a member of the Central Maine Firemen’s Association, he actively kept the firemen’s muster going.

Doak had the pleasure of announcing to muster participants Saturday that they were competing in the First Annual Kendall Burdin Blueberry Festival Muster, a tradition the department plans to continue, he said.

They almost gave up on it after Burdin became sick and discovered in April his disease was terminal. When he found out the department had decided not to do it, he asked, “why not,” Doak said.

“This did more to please him and make him feel good than the plaque or other accolades we’ve given him. This one can last and be out in public to remind us of him,” he said.

While service arrangements were still under consideration Tuesday, Doak said one of Burdin’s last requests will be fulfilled when Chief Sonny Dunham and Doak carry his ashes for one more ride in the Model A from Wiles Funeral Home in Wilton to the Elks Lodge in Farmington where an Elk ceremony will be held.

“During the trip from the funeral home, we’ll go past the Wilton station where one last alarm will sound,” he said.

A man who dedicated 47 years of his life to firefighting starting in Strong, then Phillips and spending over 40 years in Wilton, Burdin’s presence was felt in firefighting groups statewide, Doak said. He participated in the Maine Chiefs Association and the Maine State Federation of Firefighters and the county firefighters.

“We’ve had offers from fire departments all around to cover us during this week,” Doak said as the Wilton firefighters grieve.

Burdin will be remembered for his experience with the department’s trucks and vehicles but the biggest loss for the department was his support, knowledge and the experience that he had with all types of fires, he said.

“He was a good man, a loving man, proud of his kids and in love with his grandchildren. He worked hard all his life and personified dedication,” he said. “He was a great man. While people think “great” of movie stars and presidents and those in the news, he was great in his exemplary way to those people who surrounded him and worked with him,” Doak said.

His family also bared the burden of his dedication but supported him even through the missed holidays and family time that gets lost, he said.

When Burdin took his wife and daughters out to eat and the fire tone went off, they knew it was either leave their meal or look for someone to give them a ride home because he’d be gone, his wife, Anne Burdin, said last week.

“It’s always been his ‘second love’ but we’re very proud of him,” she said.

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Wilton Fire Deputy Fire Chief Kendall Burdin, second from left, front, drove the department’s restored 1929 Model A truck in Saturday’s Blueberry Festival parade. Sen. Susan Collins greeted Fire Chief Sonny Dunham, left, Burdin and Rep. Tom Saviello, right, during the festivities. Deputy Chief Tom Doak is in the back.

            

 

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