Al Blodgett, longtime member and chief of the Newberg Fire Department, dies at 80
Al Blodgett, the longtime veteran and chief of the Newberg Fire Department, passed away on June 29 at age 80. He served more than half a century with the fire department.
Blodgett graduated from Newberg High School in 1958 and from there joined the Newberg Fire Department in 1960. The Newberg resident, who migrated to town in 1946, continued volunteering with the fire department for nearly 25 years, all while owning and operating Al's Family Diner, until 1984, when he became a full-time member of the NFD. After working his way through the ranks, he became chief of the fire department in 2006. Over the 50 years he served the department, Blodgett was recognized with several awards for service and leadership.
Blodgett was a staple of the Newberg community and residents gave an outpouring of respect at the notice of his passing. For example, the 99W Drive-In Theater gave a tribute to Blodgett, putting a notice on their sign that read "We'll miss Al Blodgett!"
TVF&R Public Information Officer Stefan Myers said there has been a huge outpouring on social media. Since the department posted about Blodgett's death, the post has been interacted with about 12,000 times, Meyers said.
Capt. Alex Haven, who served with Blodgett for a little over 10 years, said Blodgett helped get him started with the fire department.
"He was a close family friend and a dear friend of mine," Haven said.
Haven said Blodgett was a big part of the Newberg community, commenting that "Al wore many hats in the community from Al's Diner and being a resource for the youth," adding that Blodgett also gave young people opportunities in his restaurant.
Haven said Blodgett had wanted to be a firefighter since he was a kid. At the time, he said volunteers had to be 21 to serve, so Blodgett waited until he met that criteria. He said Blodgett was in his 40s by the time he finally became a full-time firefighter, which showed his dedication to the department. He rose through the ranks and retired as chief in 2009, but stayed on for a little longer to help the new chief transition into the role, since Blodgett was so well connected with the community.
"His involvement in the community was pretty vast," Haven said. "He was involved with the Chamber of Commerce, he was integral in the Old Fashioned Festival. If anyone asked about Al from Newberg, they knew who he was."
Blodgett died of natural causes, Meyers said.
Haven and Meyers said Blodgett was dedicated to making sure the department erected Christmas lights during the holidays, and often funded that himself, and was intricately involved with the department's annual Toy and Joy drive.
"He made sure every kid had a gift," Meyers said. "It's just a legacy everyone can remember him by."
A celebration of life has been slated for 1 p.m. July 20 at Stoffer Stadium on the campus of George Fox University.