Former Riverhead highway superintendent Charles Bloss died Saturday, Dec. 15 at Oasis Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Center Moriches.
Bloss, 78, of Aquebogue, was the town’s highway chief for 16 years, from 1984 through 1999. He succeeded John Ziemacki in the post and was succeeded by Mark Kwasna.
“Charlie was greatly respected by all who worked with him, from the men of the highway department to the other superintendents in the 10 towns of Suffolk County,” Kwasna said this morning. “They all had the highest regard for him.”
Kwasna, who served as a councilman before being elected as highway superintendent in 1999, said his predecessor “helped me in every aspect of the job. He taught me a lot.”
Highway Superintendent George Woodson, who succeeded Kwasna in the post, said Bloss hired him as a laborer when he was discharged from the military.
“He was a great guy,” Woodson said. “He was very knowledgeable about the highway department. He knew how to do the best possible job with the budgets that he had to work with. Charlie always did the right thing. He was a fair person and a good manager.”
Bloss was a former commissioner of the Riverhead Fire District, serving from 1999 to 2008. He was a 57-year member of the department and an ex-captain (1973-1974) of the Washington Engine Company. He was also a member of the Ironmen Drill Team.
He was named the department’s Firefighter of the Year in 1977. Among other things he did for the department that year was answer a mutual aid call to the City of Buffalo to assist in the aftermath of a blizzard that paralyzed the city for two weeks.
Bloss was one of six Riverhead firemen who flew to Buffalo to provide fire protection and emergency services after the storm — which earned Buffalo its reputation as the snow capital of the U.S. and was the first snowstorm ever to warrant a federal disaster declaration. Two crews of three men each flew upstate in a C-141 cargo plane, along with the department’s 6-2-12 brush truck. They were stationed at Ladder Company 12 on the Niagra River.
Bloss said in 2011, when he was honored as a 50-year member of the department, that the trip to Buffalo was one of the most memorable experiences of his career as a Riverhead fireman.
“It’s a piece of history I hope you don’t forget,” Bloss said.
Riverhead Fire Commissioner Mark Conklin, who served with Bloss in the Washington Engine Company, said Bloss was “a good guy who did a lot for the fire department and a lot for the town.
“He was a very level-headed, common sense type of guy,” Conklin said.
Kwasna and Woodson both echoed that sentiment.
“I never saw him get mad or fly off the hook in any way,” Kwasna said.
“He earned everyone’s respect,” Woodson said.
Bloss is survived by his wife Patricia and their children Charles, James and Penny.
Visitation will take place on Wednesday at McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home, from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. A funeral service is scheduled for Dec. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at the funeral home. Interment will follow at Riverhead Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research or a charity of your choice.
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