OSSIPEE — Retired Center Ossipee Fire Chief Roland Stockbridge, 74, who also served as pastor in local Methodist churches, passed away last Saturday at Huggins Hospital.
Stockbridge served the community in many capacities — as a minister, Scout leader, National Guardsman and head of the town’s water and sewer department. But his true calling was his service as chief of the Center Ossipee Fire Department. According to Center Ossipee Fire Department Chief Michael Brownell, Stockbridge served the Center Ossipee Fire department from 1960 to 2001 and was fire chief from 1969 until his retirement in 2001.
“He was a terrific guy. I worked under him for 30 years,” said Brownell, who describes Stockbridge as his mentor.
Brownell credited Stockbridge with modernizing the fire department, both in terms of equipment and training.
“He came into the fire department when the fire department was running used oil trucks. He was really a big part of bringing this fire department up to where it is today,” Brownell said.
Stockbridge’s many accomplishments include completing an addition to the existing Center Ossipee Fire Station, a project that made space for a large apparatus bay. Brownell said he first met Stockbridge as a Boy Scout in local Troop 234, where Stockbridge served as scoutmaster.
Stockbridge was also a minister and pastor, serving congregations in the Moultonville Methodist Church, Sanbornville Methodist Church and Newfield Methodist Church. He was a founding member of the Ossipee Valley Mutual Aid Association, a local Little League coach, Junior Firefighter leader and was named Ossipee Citizen of the Year in 2004.
In 2011, the renovated Center Ossipee Fire Department was dedicated as the Roland C. Stockbridge Safety Building, where he is otherwise known as “The Legend” and “Pastor-Chief,” according to his obituary provided through the Lord Funeral Home in Center Ossipee.
“He was one of the better liked people in town. Everybody liked him,” said Town Administrator Martha Eldridge, who has known Stockbridge since she was a child in Sunday school.
Selectman Robert Freeman is Stockbridge’s son-in-law. Freeman described his father-in-law as an icon of the community.
“There isn’t a person out there that didn’t love him,” said Freeman.
Stockbridge is survived by his wife, Loretta, whom he married in 1959; his children, Glenn Stockbridge, Wayne Stockbridge and Sandra Freeman; daughters-in-law Donna and Jenifer Stockbridge; son-in-law Robert Freeman; and six grandchildren. Calling hours will be held Friday, Nov. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Lord Funeral Home in Center Ossipee with a funeral service on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 1 p.m. at the Moultonville United Methodist Church with a reception following at River’s Edge in Ossipee.