OSSINING, N.Y. – Donald Berretta, a long-time dispatcher for the Ossining Fire Department and Greenburgh Police Department, died June 29 at Calvary Hospice in Bronx after a long illness, police said.
Beretta, 56, was a lifelong resident of Ossining and a life member of the Ossining Volunteer Fire Department, which he joined in 1982. Most of Berretta’s time with the Ossining Fire Department was spent with the Washington Hook and Ladder Company, where he worked as a dispatcher for more than 25 years.
For many in Ossining and Greenburgh, Berretta was more than a devoted public servant – he was their voice and their friend.
“He was like the voice of Ossining,” said Ossining Fire Chief Thomas Reddy. “He was a very dedicated dispatcher and that was his love and dedication. It’s a terrible loss for the department.”
Berretta was also well-known in both departments for donning a Santa Claus costume during annual holiday parties.
“He always enjoyed playing Santa Claus, and I think he looked forward to that time of year the most because he loved making people smile,” Reddy said. “He’s going to be greatly missed by our department.”
Tom Pascel, Washington Hook and Ladder Company president, said Berretta made a lot of personal connections with people as company foreman.
“He always had a love for the department and it was like a second family for him,” Pascel said. “One thing about him is he was always dedicated and he worked tirelessly and gave everything to the department.”
Berretta also was affiliated with the Westchester County Fireman’s Association, the Hudson Valley Volunteer Fireman’s Association and the Royal Order of Blue Vest, FASNY. Greenburgh Police Chief Joseph DeCarlo said Berretta was a good friend to hundreds of people in the community.
“He loved what he did and it showed. He touched so many lives with the calls he answered and the friends he made in the department and the community,” DeCarlo said. “One thing I know he really enjoyed doing was playing Santa Claus during the holidays. He enjoyed helping people and it was something he wanted to do in every part of his life.”
A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, at the Ossining United Methodist Church, 3 Emwilton Place, Ossining. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Small Change Fund, c/o the Fireman’s Home of the State of NY, 125 Harry Howard Ave., Hudson, NY.