MORIAH - Moriah firefighters will honor their long-time chief at the department's annual dinner.
The gathering is set for Saturday, May 16, at the Mineville VFW. The evening will begin with a social hour 6-7 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m.
Chief Ralph Jaquish will be the man of the hour.
Jaquish is reputed to be the longest-serving fire chief in New York State.
Jaquish will mark 50 consecutive years as Moriah fire chief in 2009.
"He is highly respected by everyone as a hard-working, moral, family man whom everyone can count on, whether it be a fire, a trip to the ER, a tooth needing pulling or electrical or plumbing work to be done," said Bill Trybendis of the Moriah FD. "He is always there when you need him, no matter who you are. He has seen the hard times, he has seen the good times and he is the kind of man that any community would be proud and blessed to have called their own."
"Along with his wife, Ruth, his devoted and most solid supporter, we would like to congratulate Chief Ralph Jaquish on his many accomplishments and thank him for all he has done for this community and will do in the future," Trybendis added. "We congratulate him on his 50 years as chief of the Moriah Fire Department, an accomplishment few, if any others, may claim."
Jaquish became chief in June 1959 when the former chief moved away from town.
And he's been more than a fire chief. Jaquish has served on the Moriah town board and is acknowledged as a community leader.
Jaquish has been a Moriah firefighter since 1954.
Jaquish was born on April 16, 1931 in Lake Placid to Ralza and Martha Malbon Jaquish. He has three sisters, Carol, Beatrice and the late Betty Harnden and one brother, Jim.
When Jaquish was in eighth grade, the family moved to the South Road in Moriah. He played basketball at Moriah High School where he graduated in 1949. He joined the Air Force in 1950 and began to study electronics and radar systems at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. That dream was cut short in 1951 when he was called home when his father was killed in a mining explosion.
Now the head of his family, Jaquish worked for Republic Steel.
He married Ruth Christian on June 22, 1952. Together they raised nine children, Jeanne, Donald, Thomas, Frederic, Randall, Candy, Sandy, Richard and Mary. They now have 19 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
After Republic Steel, Ralph worked as a self-employed electrician, plumber and stone mason for several years, along with other side jobs, and at International Paper Company for 27 years, retiring from the position of shift engineer in the power plant in 1992.
He served as town councilman in Moriah for nine years, during which time changes were made to the Bulwagga Bay Campsite, which he oversaw.
On Labor Day 2008 Jaquish served as grand marshall of the Port Henry parade in recognition of his 50 years as chief of the Moriah Fire Department.