SILVER CREEK - The Silver Creek area took a big hit Monday night with the passing of Rich Bartlett.
Bartlett was recently diagnosed with cancer and was receiving treatments at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Rich lost his battle with cancer at age 55 and leaves behind a wife, Tammy, and two sons; James and Richie, as well as his fire department family and many friends.
Longtime friend and current Silver Creek Fire Chief Jeff Griewisch said there was no better friend than Rich.
OBSERVER File photo by Samantha McDonnell
Former Silver Creek Fire Chief Rich Bartlett passed away Monday. He is pictured at a ceremony to dedicate a truck bay in his honor.
"He was the best friend anyone could wish for or have. I knew him for over 30 years and I work by his side at his business, fighting fires and just hanging out. I couldn't ask for a better friend; he was closer than a brother. Everybody should have at least one friend like Rich and there wouldn't be any problems in the world," he said Tuesday.
Bartlett touched the lives of many with his service to his community. Deputy Mayor Amy Romanik said Bartlett was a unique person who always put others before himself.
"Rich was one of a kind. He left a mark on every person he came in contact with. He was the kind of person who always put others before himself and never hesitated to jump in harm's way to protect another. His passing is a tremendous loss to our entire community and leaves shoes that no person will ever be able to fill. On behalf of the village I'd like to thank his family for sharing him with us. Our sincere sympathy goes out to all of them," she said in an email Tuesday.
He was a member of the Silver Creek Fire Department for more than 35 years and served as fire chief five times. He also trained more than 100 people in the fire department to use the "jaws of life" and was the vice president of the Chautauqua County Fire Chiefs Association.
His dedication to the fire department was recently recognized when a truck bay at the fire hall was named "Bartlett Bay" in his honor.
Bartlett also served as the disaster coordinator for the village of Silver Creek and was a major part in the creation of the Citizens Emergency Response Team after the 2009 flood.
In addition, he was the president of the Silver Creek Little League and saw through a major project in renovating the field.
He has also conducted the fire prevention program at Silver Creek School for many years, this being the first year he was unable to do so.
Hanover Supervisor and another close friend of Bartlett's Todd Johnson said his passing is a huge loss for the community.
"He was an outstanding, fantastic friend and a true leader," Johnson said Tuesday. "It is a great loss to the fire service within the town for all the years he trained individuals in the fire service in the town of Hanover."
A benefit was held last weekend for Bartlett at the Silver Creek Fireman's Club. Griewisch said Rich showed up for a while and it is still unbelievable he passed away just two days later.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete and are being handled by the Hole-Parker Funeral Chapel, Silver Creek. A full obituary will appear in Thursday's edition.
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