by Rebecca Freer
When Fire Chief Mr. Daniel Kelly passed away Feb. 3, there was an outpouring of love and support from the Westfield community. Kelly, 54, served the community for 33 years, according to nj.com. Kelly grew up in Westfield, graduated from WHS and was an active member of the community.
Retired firefighter Mr. Gus Buonanno recalled Kelly’s dreams of being on the fire department. He said, “Danny was the only one that wanted to be a firefighter from day one….He was a quick learner and able to handle any job.”
Kelly started volunteering for the Westfield Fire Department shortly after his graduation in 1978, and in 1981 was delegated a full time member of the department, according to nj.com; he served as chief of the Westfield Fire Department for 10 years.
Principal Mr. Peter Renwick said that when Kelly came to help out at fire drills he would walk through the halls and reminisce about his and his brother’s time at WHS.
Renwick said: “I consider myself honored to know him; he was a good man and certainly very highly respected in the community.... We had so many community members coming together in support of his wife and his extended family, and I think it is a reflection on how strong the Westfield community is."
Director of Counseling Ms. Maureen Mazzarese said: "Chief Dan Kelly was a home town boy who grew up to be a wonderful man devoted to serving his hometown. I first knew him as a young firefighter, later as the chief and always as a devoted friend, neighbor and family man."
Senior Gabby Brennan and her family, especially her father who has been on the Westfield Fire Department for 19 years, knew Kelly well and grew up with many fond memories of him. Every time she saw Kelly, he would always take time to catch up on their personal lives.
Gabby Brennan said: "With running the firehouse and all the responsibilities that go with that, [Kelly] was still very considerate and showed a very caring and compassionate demeanor. It's the little things in life that really leave an impact and I don't think people realize how much something as little as what he did could mean to someone and how greatly it was appreciated. ”
In a statement to The Alternative Press, Mayor Skibitsky said: “The passing of Chief Dan Kelly is a tremendous loss to our community. He will be missed. We will forever be grateful for his nearly 34 years of exceptional service to the town of Westfield."