Former Berkshire, Sunbury, Trenton, and Galena (BST&G) Fire District Chief Jeff Wilson passed away recently, but he left a legacy that will live on in Delaware County.
Wilson, 54, retired from the fire district on Jan. 31 after 30 years of service starting as volunteer and later serving as fire chief for six years. Wilson passed away on June 8 after a 17-month battle with Glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer.
A funeral service and procession was held Tuesday, June 12.
“Chief Wilson was a progressive fire chief who led BST&G Fire District as the community rapidly grew,” said City of Delaware Fire Chief John Donahue on Tuesday. “He saw the need and worked to hire full-time personnel to meet the needs and growth of the community. On a countywide basis, he served as president of the Delaware County 911 Board and the Fire Chiefs Association of Delaware County. He was a true professional and advocate for the fire service.”
Porter-Kingston Township Fire Chief Mike Thompson said Wilson’s legacy extends beyond just serving as a fire chief.
“He did a lot for Delaware County that people probably won’t ever realize,” Thompson said Wednesday, June 13.
He added Wilson did behind-the-scenes work that benefited the whole county, not just his local area.
“(Wilson) looked out for everybody, not just his district. He was very county-oriented,” Thompson said.
Thompson added Wilson was instrumental in the 911 Center and bringing city and county emergency services together.
Wilson was also instrumental in House Bill 277, which passed in 2016 and eliminated double taxation on 911 services in the county.
“Chief Wilson was a friend and a colleague,” said Orange Township Fire Chief Matt Noble Wednesday. “He cared about his family, friends and his fire department. Chief Wilson’s wisdom, humor and friendship will be missed.”
Delaware County Commissioner Gary Merrell said he would describe Wilson as “professional, passionate about his county, his fire department and his staff.”
“I had been privileged to work with Chief Wilson after becoming commissioner roughly six years ago,” Merrell said. “We worked and I observed his talents on the 911 Board. He will be missed, but his legacy will serve our county for far into the future.”
Wilson leaves behind his wife, Marla, and their two children, Krystina (Matt) Fahey and Daniel Wilson.
In lieu of flowers, Wilson’s family has asked interested parties to please consider a donation to the BST&G Fire Association, 350 W. Cherry St., Sunbury, Ohio 43074 or the Sunbury United Methodist Church Youth Work Mission Fund, 100 W. Cherry St., Sunbury, Ohio 43074.
At Wilson’s retirement in January, Marla read a speech he had written for the ceremony.
“Thank you to the community and how you have supported the fire department during this period of growth,” Wilson wrote. “I did not come looking for this career. It found me. This is definitely where I was supposed to be. Lastly, I want to thank the guys. It has been a growing family that has made me proud. We have many great memories here.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG. Gary Budzak contributed to this article.