Peter Meade, a former president of the Great Neck Alert Fire Company who served the department for over 50 years, died on Nov. 5. He was 74.
In addition to his service with the Alert Fire Company, where colleagues considered him a “point man,” Meade was a Marine Corps veteran, chief of fire communications for Nassau County, an assistant chief fire marshal of Nassau County’s Fire and Rescue Services and a legislative advocate for those in the fire services.
Peggy Meade, his wife of 36 years, said her husband had dealt with cancer in his final years, but it did not stop them from trying to explore all 50 states and as many national parks as possible.
“He had the cancer for 12 years and he never was cured, but we sort of described it as living as cancer,” Peggy Meade said in an interview. “It didn’t slow us down until the last six months.”
Family and colleagues in the Alert Fire Company recalled Meade as their go-to guy, always equipped with a sense of humor, an answer for questions and a passion for service. They also knew him as a caring man of faith, dedicated to the community wherever he went.
“His life was based around service,” Kyle Meade, his nephew and foreman of the Alert Fire Company, said in an interview. “Whether it be to his country or to his community or the Fire Department or his family, he was all about serving others.”
Meade, born on June 4, 1943, grew up in Great Neck as one of six boys before going on to serve with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1961 to 1964, including during the Cuban missile crisis. It was there, as an encryption officer, that he delivered fleet invasion plans, his nephew said.
After that, Meade returned home, took the fire marshal’s test and join the Great Neck Alert Fire Company in 1966.
He was a volunteer member for 51 years.
Meade worked as a fire inspector for the Nassau County fire marshal’s office, before becoming a deputy commanding officer of the Nassau County Fire and Rescue Services. He then co-founded the Nassau County Fire Communications Center, or Firecom.
Meade also served as Alert Fire Company’s president in the 1970s, helping manage the firehouse and establishing committees like the truck committee.
Michael Green, chairman of the Alert Fire Company’s Board of Trustees, said that even when Meade was not president, he always tried to keep the department ahead of the curve and work on the legislative, bylaw, membership and service awards committees.
“He was always on the cutting edge of the fire service,” Green, a 40-year veteran of the fire service, said. “His contribution as a whole, for all these years, was phenomenal.”
Alert Fire Company Chief James Neubert also described Meade as a “crusader” for educating firefighters about the increased risk for developing cancer in their profession and how to reduce that risk.
Colleagues said he acted as a liaison for decades, going upstate for legislative conferences. He also helped volunteer fire companies integrate with Firecom’s dispatching system and pushed for fire safety legislation.
“He was a true champion to the fire service,” Neubert said. “He really led the way in many areas.”
Peggy Meade said she met Peter in 1973 through his brother Greg, who was a member of the Meade Brothers Band. She said she saw him as a very friendly man with a “big smile and a big personality.”
“Outgoing, charming, and always had a smile,” Peggy said.
The two began dating in 1977, got married in 1981 and had two children together: Colleen and Brian. Together they went on many family trips, Peggy said, and Peter instilled the importance of kindness and charity in their children.
Outside of his career with the fire service, Peggy Meade said, he was a six-year trustee on the Carle Place Board of Education, the former director of the Carle Place Civic Association and a commissioner of the Carle Place Water District since 2012.
He also expressed pride in graduating from SUNY Empire State College in 2012, Peggy said, with a degree in community and human services focused on emergency management at 68 years old.
“These 36 years were an adventure,” Peggy said.
In addition to his wife and two children, Peter Meade is survived by his brothers Joseph, Richard, Gregory and Terence, as well as their spouses, and many nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors.
He is pre-deceased by his brother Michael, who died from cancer in 2006.
Meade reposed at Great Neck Alert Fire Company last Thursday and Friday. A funeral was held at St. Aloysius Church in Great Neck on Saturday before he was interred at All Saints Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.