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Mar 3, 2010 9:11 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton firefighter 'Eggie' Raynor dies at 82.

Mar 3, 2010 9:11 AM

In more than 60 years as a local volunteer firefighter, Herbert C. “Eggie” Raynor battled blazes while making innumerable friends. The modest man who followed a family tradition of firefighting earned deep respect in Southampton Village for his devotion to the fire department, promotion of fire safety to schoolchildren and genuine passion for life.

Always eager to help others, Mr. Raynor fell while taking out the garbage at his Breese Lane home two weeks ago. He died from natural causes at Southampton Hospital on Saturday at the age of 82.

Although Mr. Raynor was a lifelong resident of the East End, his richly deserved reputation radiated beyond the region, particularly within firefighting circles.

“If you go anywhere on Long Island and say you’re from the Southampton Village Fire Department, people will ask, ‘Do you know Eggie Raynor?’” said Mr. Raynor’s friend Chris Brenner, the Southampton Fire Department public information officer.

Over the decades, Mr. Raynor became a fixture at local parades. He sent flurries of postcards and letters to friends and family members, enjoyed backyard games with children and camping on the beach and sparked his son David’s interest in becoming a firefighter, a great source of pride for him.

The Westhampton Beach native started extinguishing flames for the Westhampton Beach Fire Department in 1948, alongside his father and brothers. Upon moving to Southampton Village in 1957 with his wife, Patsy, he joined the Southampton Village Fire Department’s Hook and Ladder Co. #1, where he ascended the ranks rapidly, holding the title of chief from 1979 to 1982. Simultaneously, he served as the deputy county fire coordinator. Mr. Raynor continued to don his gear until his 70s and remained active at department functions until the end.

“My dad was kind of old school,” David Raynor of Southampton said. “He would stand up at firehouse meetings and address his own son as ‘Mr. Captain.’”

Mr. Raynor acquired his beloved nickname “Eggie” during a football game as a teenager. A fellow player knocked him down and said, “You’re such an egghead,” according to Mrs. Raynor. The name stuck and Mrs. Raynor, who met her husband through football games, said she knew him only as “Eggie” for a long time. The amusing part, his family noted, was that Mr. Raynor was actually very athletic, relishing many sports, including donkey basketball, played on the backs of animals for fund-raisers decades ago.

As a youth, Mr. Raynor was a lifeguard at several local beaches. Long after he exchanged his lifeguard rescue tubes for firefighting gear, however, Mr. Raynor saved the life of a 3-year-old girl in 1976, when he resuscitated Janice Strong’s limp body after a fire near the Southampton Village train station. He earned the Suffolk County and Southampton Fire Department medals of valor for his heroics.

A member of the Westhampton Beach High School class of 1945, Mr. Raynor left school to enlist in the U.S. Navy during World War II, serving for two years, stationed in Florida. He received an honorary diploma in 2002.

“As far as I’m concerned, Eggie was an ambassador for the fire department and the antique truck committee,” noted Steve Phillips, president of the Southampton Village Antique Truck Committee, which tends to antique trucks. Mr. Raynor also participated in the Southampton Village Antique Muster Committee.

“It strikes me that he was probably the most passionate man I’ve ever known when it comes to the fire department,” said Southampton Village Trustee Paul Robinson, who is the liaison to the department.

In his professional life, Mr. Raynor worked as a foreman at Duryea & Baird, a family-owned construction company. Upon the company’s dissolution, he joined the Teamsters Union, where he worked as a foreman for 25 years.

Yet it is his personable spirit that endures. He was so caring, his family noted, that he would thank the silverware at family dinners, in addition to saying grace.

“There comes a time when we all have to leave this world,” said his wife of 58 years, “and I’m happy for the years that we had together.”

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Raynor is survived by two daughters, Denise Connors and her husband Dennis of Riverhead and Dawn Mielke and her husband Jon of Loveland, Colorado; two brothers, Milton and his wife Martha of Eastport and Rich and his wife Kathy of Calverton; and a granddaughter, Mackenzie Mielke of Loveland, Colorado.

Mr. Raynor was predeceased by his mother, Irene; his father, Russ; two brothers, George and Henry; two sisters, Lillian Gowan and Cora Kametler; and a granddaughter, Amanda Mielke.

Visitation hours were held on Wednesday, March 3, and are scheduled for today, Thursday, March 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at O’Connell Funeral Home at 30 Little Plains Road in Southampton Village.

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Going to miss him...........icon of the fire department
By mother of firefighter (18), Southampton on Mar 1, 10 11:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
What a great & wonderful person. I'm going to miss my buddy!
By LUVSH (28), Southampton on Mar 1, 10 12:29 PM
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Mar 1, 10 1:03 PM
By smacw (240), New York on Mar 1, 10 1:44 PM
Via Con Dios, another thread in the fabric of the tapestry that is the East End
By Terry (380), Southampton on Mar 1, 10 2:22 PM

The Minardi Family has fond memories of "Eggie", the back yard parties, merry makers, post football parties at the goldsmiths etc... our annual christmas eve visit (which we have on film) ! this was all before the "hamptons" and it was a very special time. Breeze Lane will never be the same but the Eggie vibe is forever. All the best to the Raynor family.
By minarditraining.com (19), Easthampton on Mar 1, 10 8:17 PM
By Rooster (4), Southampton on Mar 1, 10 8:30 PM
Eggie Raynor, always a smile and a pleasent greeting. Never did I ever hear or see him get upset, he was always a gentleman. I enjoyed talking with him, and he was always good for a cocktail during the antiques truck muster while he was the wagonmaster, a job only Eggie could make enjoyable. I will miss him as so many others will.
By trurepublician (53), hampton bays on Mar 1, 10 10:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
i could not have said that better...
By Coxie (14), southampton on Mar 3, 10 9:19 AM
The East End has lost another piece of history. Luckily many people were blessed to have shared in his warmth and kindness. I'll miss his huge smile while chauffering Southampton's antique firetruck in HB's carvival parade.
By HBNative (15), Hampton Bays on Mar 2, 10 9:12 AM
The epitome of a true Southampton gentleman.
Godspeed to you Eggie.
By Uncle Fester (61), Southampton on Mar 2, 10 12:58 PM
this man saved my life when I was 3... I never got to meet you.. But thank you!!
By jenise (1), CASPER on Mar 5, 10 1:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
My deepest condolences to the entire Raynor family. Eggie was an inspiration to all of us growing up back in the day.
By D Spooner (2), Winchester on Mar 6, 10 11:26 AM
Fortunately I was able to see him at last years 4th of July parade atop the antique firetruck. An era has ended. Condolences to his family.
By Hilton Head SC (3), Hilton Head Island on Mar 9, 10 5:51 PM
Indeed, a true gentleman.

We'll miss you, but as long as we follow in your stead, you and your ways of living will continue on...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 11, 10 1:38 PM
Eggie was the ultimate firefighter. U will be missed by all you touched. Jenise I need to contact you
By agawam38 (2), southampton on Mar 22, 10 10:19 PM