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SUFFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) – The American flag flies at half-staff outside the Suffield Township Fire Department in Portage County, as a tribute to Captain Robert Dudley, who served the people of Suffield Township for 53 years and was the department’s first paramedic.

Suffield Township Captain Robert Dudley

Fire Chief Bob Rasnick remembered him, “He would bring a sense of calm to an emergency situation, you’d go, ‘Oh, Bob’s here, okay, things are going to be okay. We’ve got some knowledge and experience here; we’re going to get through this.'”

After Robert Dudley passed away on Sunday at the age of 75, his fellow firefighters saluted the captain with a procession along Waterloo Road in Suffield.

Those who served alongside Captain Dudley say he was known for his care and compassion for victims in their greatest time of need.

“This was his life, serving people; fire and EMS, it’s who he was, it was in his soul.”

“There was nothing else more important than that person right there, and he always tried to have a positive outcome. Obviously, in this business, we don’t always have the outcomes that we desire, but he always worked like he was going to get it done until the very last ounce of energy,” said Chief Rasnick.

In March 2022, Robert Dudley received the Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio Fire Service Hall of Fame.

In a touching video posted on the Ohio Channel at the time, the captain said the honor meant a great deal to him because his decades on the job had inspired others to serve, including two of his sons.

“For those that selected me, just quite an honor, really could not have done it with the people I have worked with over the years because they helped make it possible,” he said.

Among Robert Dudley’s greatest contributions to the fire service were decades of providing education and training for generations of firefighters and paramedics.

“He was a coach, he was a mentor, educator, ‘You’re doing this wrong, do it this way, okay, great,'” said Chief Rasnick.

Suffield Township plans to buy a new rescue pumper that FOX 8 is told will bear the name of Captain Robert Dudley. His longtime friends believe it is a fitting tribute.

“This was his life, serving people; fire and EMS, it’s who he was, it was in his soul,” said Chief Rasnick.

The Suffield Township Fire Department plans to hold a public memorial service in Captain Robert Dudley’s honor on April 29th at 1:00 pm.