© Dave Mathieson - Cumberland News Now
Ratchford Merriam passed away a little less than a year ago and on Sunday the tanker truck at the Advocate Fire Department was dedicated in his memory with the unveiling of a plaque riveted to the side of the tanker truck. Ratchford’s family was on hand for the ceremony. Standing in front of the plaque is (from left) Sarah Merriam, Brent Merriam, Debbie White, Shelley Merriam, Ratchford’s wife Winnie Merriam, Brian Merriam, Maria Merriam, Laura Merriam, Marjorie Crossman and Leonard Crossman.
ADVOCATE – Ratchford Merriam may be gone, but he won’t be forgotten.
“He was very beneficial to us getting this new tanker truck and everything you see here,” said Michael MacDougall, Advocate Fire Chief, after a plaque dedicated in Merriam’s memory was unveiled during a fire prevention open house Sunday at the Advocate Fire Hall.
Merriam was a long-time Cumberland County councilor for District 10, and passed away last Nov. at the age of 74. The plaque dedicated in his memory is riveted to the side of the new tanker truck.
“We felt it was a fitting tribute to dedicate the truck to his memory in this way,” added MacDougall.
“Thursday night was our meeting night and he always dropped in,” added MacDougall. “If we had any question or problems he would take them to the county for us.”
Much of Merriam’s family, including his wife Winnie, was on hand for the ceremony.
“He’d be very proud of being recognized like this,” said Winnie.
His two son’s Brian and Brent, along with his daughter, Shelley, were also on hand.
“He did a lot of things people didn’t know about because he wasn’t one for publicity, he was just looking to help people out,” said Shelley. “A lot of people didn’t realize until his passing of just what he had done.”
Brian says his dad was proud of his community.
“He comes from here. He thinks a lot of the people and the people thought a lot of him. It worked both ways,” said Brian. “He felt the people in Advocate were just as important as anybody else in the province and thought the same things should be provided.”
A year after his passing, his district is still benefitting from his work.
“He had enough irons in the fire that even thought he’s been gone a year stuff is still coming in that he worked on,” said Brian.
Everybody who encountered Ratchford knew he was quiet, yet quick-witted.
“He didn’t like to hear himself talk, that’s for sure,” said Brian. “He didn’t say much but when he did people laughed, but they also got the meaning of what he was trying to get across.”
Brent says he was a great father as well.
“I think it’s very nice that they respected dad that much to donate that plaque in his name. It was nice of them to do that and it was nice to do it for mom’s sake as well. It was very thoughtful,” said Brent. “He did a lot for the community and anybody who needed help.
“He was always the there for the community and always there for his family.”
The open house was also an opportunity for Junior Fire Fighters from throughout the county to gather together for Junior Appreciation Day.
“I started as a Junior Fire Fighter when I was 15, I’m 52 now, and my two sons started as junior fire fighters as well,” said John Melanson, Advocate deputy fire chief. “We have five juniors in our department. We’ve had 14 since we introduced the program in 2005, and many of them stayed on after they turned 18.”
Melanson encourages more youth to get involved.
“We’re trying to get every department to promote it more. It’s made a difference in our department,” said Melanson.