BIDDEFORD — Hundreds of firefighters are expected to gather Friday to celebrate and honor Marc Bellefeuille, retired deputy fire chief in Biddeford, who died unexpectedly Sunday.

Mr. Bellefeuille, 60, joined the Biddeford Fire Department in 1972 as a call firefighter. He rose through the ranks, then left the department in 1998 to be fire chief in Wells.

Mr. Bellefeuille returned to Biddeford in 2003 as deputy fire chief of emergency services and training.

He was widely respected as an instructor for fire training and education. He was coordinator for the Maine State Weekend at the National Fire Academy. He dedicated 38 years to the fire service industry before retiring in April.

An estimated 300 to 500 firefighters are expected to attend his wake from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday at Hope Memorial Chapel. He will receive full firefighting honors at his funeral, at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s Church in Biddeford.

Todd Bellefeuille, the older of his two children, said firefighting was his father’s life. “It was his passion,” his son said. “It’s what he loved to do. My father was very close to all the guys. He lived, breathed and ate fire service.”

He was married to Annette Bellefeuille for 38 years. The couple met through mutual friends when they were in high school. She said he pestered her for a while to go on a date with him, and she eventually gave in.

“It was a date that never really ended,” she said Tuesday. “Our life together was like any normal married couple. We went on numerous day trips and vacations. We did as much as we could do with the boys. I’m very thankful for what we did have.”

Mr. Bellefeuille was remembered by his children Tuesday as a supportive and loving father who was always there for them. Todd Bellefeuille said his father taught him how to fly-fish, which they did often throughout their lives.

“Whenever I needed a hand, or he needed a hand, we were always there for each other,” his son said. “In retrospect, he was just a really remarkable person. Seeing all the people come to the hospital … it made us realize how many people were really affected by him.”

On Thursday, Mr. Bellefeuille and his wife spent the day with their two young grandchildren, Gage and Garin Bellefeuille. The couple took the boys sledding in a field across from their home in Biddeford – on a snow hill that he helped build with his snowblower.

He spent the afternoon sledding with his grandsons, then the couple ordered take-out from Michael’s Pizza, which was his favorite.

About five minutes after they dropped off their grandsons, Mr. Bellefeuille suffered a massive stroke. The doctors gave the family little hope that he would recover. He died three days later.

“It was nice that he spent his last day with my boys, who were the joy of his life,” his son said.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]