Former Hillsboro Fire Chief Dayton F. Arruda, who served as the department’s chief for 25 years, passed away at his home in Hillsboro the evening of Nov. 3.

On Saturday, a memorial service with full fire service honors was held at a packed Hillsboro United Methodist Church to honor Arruda, who was HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Friends and family of former Hillsboro Fire Chief Dayton Arruda gathered at Hillsboros United Methodist Church Saturday morning to honor Arrudas many years of service. Two ladder trucks marked the entrance to the memorial service with a large American flag flying in tribute.

“All Hillsboro Fire Department on-duty personnel were at the service, as well as many off-duty, retired and area firefighters,” said Bruce Montgomery, public information officer for the fire department.

Firefighting apparatus lined the streets around the church, with two ladder trucks at the entrance with their ladders extended to display a large American flag.

Firefighters in uniform lined the entrance to the church, while inside there was a color guard and a final bell-ringing ceremony. A flag was presented to Chief Arruda’s oldest son, Jonathan.

The service was led by former firefighter and current Beaverton Police Department Chaplain Paul Olds and retired Fire Chief Dennis England.

Arruda, who was born in Hawaii, attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, graduating with a degree in sociology in 1967.

“He came to Pacific on a football scholarship,” said Hillsboro’s current fire chief, Greg Nelson. “That’s what brought him to Pacific. The guy was a mountain of a man, but just a gentle giant.”

While a student at Pacific, Arruda served as an intern with the Hillsboro Fire Department, launching a career that would last almost his entire lifetime.

Before going to work full-time for the fire department, Arruda had some unique experiences.

He toured Japan for a year as a sumo wrestler, and following his graduation from Pacific, he tried out for the Victoria Steelers, a professional football team in Canada’s short-lived Pacific Football League, and made the cut. On the Victoria Steelers 1967 roster, Arruda was listed as being a 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound tackle.

However, after playing in just one pro game, Arruda returned to Hillsboro to begin his career as a firefighter.

“Dayton was a firefighter all of his working life,” said Montgomery. “He started as a Hillsboro volunteer in 1962 and became a full-time employee of the department in 1967. He advanced to the rank of fire chief in 1972, and continued as chief until his retirement in 1997.”

Arruda led the fire department through its expansion into the emergency medical services field; paid staffing additions; and conversion to the 24/48-hour shift model at three fire stations.

Nelson said he would dearly miss Arruda’s friendship.

“Dayton was a mentor and a friend. He hired me 33 years ago, and was a larger than life figure in the eyes of a young firefighter,” Nelson recalled. “I learned a lot from him. He was a kind and gentle man, and will be missed by us all.”

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