South Berwick firefighter Patrick Gorman holds a plaque memorializing his father, longtime Fire Chief George Gorman, who died last year after battling cancer. Patrick's mother and George's widow, Simone, is at left. Credit: Deb Cram | Portsmouth Herald

SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — The community came together on Tuesday night to honor a public servant of more than five decades.

A plaque in honor of former South Berwick Fire Chief George Gorman was unveiled at the fire station before a gathering of colleagues, family and friends.

Current Chief Joe Rousselle, himself a 45-year veteran of the department, described Gorman as a “father figure.”

“He was supposed to be here 20 hours a week — sometimes he’d work more than 40,” Rousselle said. “We always had a close relationship.”

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Gorman died of cancer last year after serving the town’s fire department for 53 years, including 47 years as chief.

Gorman first trained as a firefighter at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery and brought his skills back to his hometown. He raised his family in town — South Berwick native Simone, his wife; son Patrick, who currently serves as a captain in the South Berwick department; daughter Jennifer; and eight grandchildren.

“He was just an awesome man,” Gorman’s sister-in-law Louise Mitchell of Rollinsford, New Hampshire. “Great father, the whole nine yards.”

Grandson Bradley Gorman, 18, currently a firefighter in South Berwick, called his grandfather “very determined.”

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“Things were to be done right,” said Bradley Gorman, who currently studies fire science at Southern Maine Community College. “He made sure everyone took pride in the way things were done.”

Simone Gorman said her husband’s legacy will continue at the South Berwick Fire Department for many years to come.

“I think it’s wonderful they’re dedicating a plaque to my husband,” Simone Gorman said. “This is a wonderful tribute to him. He was a fabulous husband, father, grandfather and a wonderful mentor to all of these men.”

“He took this little two-bay fire station and built this,” Jennifer Gorman said, gesturing with her hands at the current multi-bay station that opened about 25 years ago, under Chief Gorman’s watch. “It’s a great tribute to him.”