Flags will continue to fly at half mast for the next week, in honour of a man who served this community for decades through the Maple Ridge fire department.
Services will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7, for Richard Purdey, the 65-year-old former Maple Ridge deputy fire chief who passed away of a heart attack on Aug. 22.
Like his father Stan, one of the founding members of the Maple Ridge fire department, Purdey was a "devoted" firefighter much of his life, first starting as a volunteer and eventually climbing the ladder to deputy chief.
"He was one of the builders of this department - a long-time member," fire chief Dane Spence said of his late colleague and friend.
"He had deep roots in the fire department... he gave his working life to the community. He was always extremely committed to the people of Maple Ridge, and even in death he is still giving, now as an organ donor."
Purdey started with the local fire department as a volunteer in 1968, then after working for a time with the Riverview fire department (which was later rolled into the Coquitlam fire service), he joined the full-time staff in Maple Ridge during 1986, as the new fire inspector.
In 1991, he was promoted to deputy chief - first working under chief Paul Steine and then Pat Brooks - and remained a leader of the team until retiring in 1998.
"He was extremely well respected and looked up to by many of the members," said Spence, noting he was one of the earliest and strongest advocates for debriefing and implementing a system that recognized and treated members for critical incident stress after nasty situations.
Though he retired 15 years ago, Purdey remained a fixture at the local fire department, even visiting the hall the morning of his death.
"The fire department was a huge part of Richard's life, without question," Spence said, noting that, in recent years, he'd been spending half of the year in Mexico.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said Purdey's passing is a loss for the community.
"He was far too young," said Daykin, who knew of Purdey growing up, but never really got to know him until Purdey started at the local firehall.
"It's confession time," Daykin said, admitting one of his first real introductions to Purdey was when - in the late 1980s - he and his wife Judy were still running the Windsor Plywood store in Albion.
Daykin had decided to burn a pile of scrap lumber and old, broken pallets behind his shop on River Road. Flames raging, Daykin was tending
the fire when, suddenly, he turned around to unexpectedly find Purdey standing beside him.
"You can't be doing that," Purdey told him, explaining that he'd seen the plumes of smoke from his Tamarack Lane deck.
"Just don't do it again.
I have my eye on you," Purdey said, leaving Daykin with a $100 ticket that they would joke about for years to come.
Recognizing that Purdey was a big part of the firefighting community, Daykin described him as a fixture during his time transitioning from a volunteer to paid firefighter and beyond, and credited Purdey for helping to steer through some difficult times of growth and evolution.
"He was a character,"
Daykin added, recalling how he would often see Purdey "givin' 'er" through town in his red fire-department-issued station wagon on his way to call after call.
"Some thought him gruff and rough, but he was fair, too," Daykin said. "He was serious and firm, but he had a good sense of humour... Deep down, he was a good, funny guy."
As part of the tribute for Purdey, the flags in front of the main firehall will be flown at half mast until the evening of his service.
The service is being held at Maple Ridge Alliance Church, at 203rd Street and Dewdney Trunk Road, on Sept. 7 at 11 a.m. He was predeceased by his wife Brenda, and survived by his daughters Morgan and Erin, as well as his brothers Don and Graham, the latter who also served with the Maple Ridge fire department for a dozen years.
In lieu of flowers, people are asked to make a donation in Purdey's name to the Ridge Meadows Hospice Society.
@ Copyright 2013