NORTH SALEM, N.Y.-The dedication and hours Harold Richard Daros gave to the Croton Falls Fire Department during his 78 years did not go unnoticed.
Daros, 78, died Jan. 13 at Northern Westchester Hospital. For 61 years, he was a part of the Croton Falls Fire Department, holding nearly every job, including dispatcher, chief and past president and commissioner of the Croton Falls Fire District.
He was laid to rest Wednesday, Jan. 17, carried through the streets of Somers to the Ivandell Cemetery on a fire truck he spent years taking care of, the 1939 Ward LaFrance.
“Strangely enough, it was the same age as him, 78,” said Harold’s son, Ted Daros, of the truck that carried his father’s casket through the snow, another detail that Ted Daros said would have made his dad happy. “He loved the snow and would always find a reason to go out in the snow. He would get the trucks ready, put the chains on the trucks so they could get around.”
Harold Daros was a 1957 graduate of Mahopac High School and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1959-1963. He is survived by his wife, Lorraine DeVall, and their five children.
He was a member of the Teamsters Union Local 456 in Elmsford for 28 years before retiring in 2002.
Along with his service to the Croton Falls Fire Department, he was a member of the New York State Fire Police and a charter member of the North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
He had a passion for antique cars and was a 40-year member of the Model A Ford Club of America. He was a past president of the Westchester Chapter of the Model A Ford Club and a member of the Antique Automobile Club of America. He and his wife attended 12 annual Gidden Tours across the United States with their 1930 Model A Ford Town Sedan.
On the day of his funeral, Ted Daros said firefighters from all over turned out to say goodbye.
“I felt really good to see that many people and the fire department did a beautiful job,” Ted Daros said. “It’s been sad, of course, but for whatever reason, in that moment I knew he was getting what he wanted. He always said he wanted to go out on the back of a truck.”
For Harold Daros, the fire department infiltrated every part of his life. So much so, in fact, that Ted Daros is now president of the Croton Falls Fire Department and his brother, Bob Daros, is commissioner of the fire district. Ted’s son, Teddy Daros, also serves as a firefighter.
Croton Falls Assistant Fire Chief Sean Partenio wrote on the department’s website that Harold Daros was an important member of the Croton Falls Fire Department family.
“Harold was a fixture in the firehouse and will be greatly missed,” Partenio said.
Growing up, Ted Daros said the family’s living room served as a dispatch center with the fire phone and radio on the dining room table. The family had the ability to blow the siren until the 1980s, when the county took over the dispatch duties.
“Everything is done with pagers now,” Ted Daros said. “It was interesting because it definitely gave us an inside view of how it all worked. I can tell you, as kids, there was five of us, and we’d be running around screaming and if that phone rang, everyone was dead silent. Like Pavlov’s dogs, you just shut up when you heard that bell.”
Ted Daros said his mother dispatched one of the most famous fires in town–the one in 1977 that destroyed the Croton Falls Baptist Church. The fire demolished the 100-year-old structure and resulted in the purchase of a bigger truck that could hold more water, which at the time was the largest in Westchester County.
“My mother dispatched the whole call right from my dining room,” Ted Daros said.
Lorraine Daros is finding comfort in her family during this time, Ted Daros said, and was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the Daros patriarch.
“It was an amazing tribute to him and his life of service,” Ted Daros said. “I know he would be humbled by it.”