George Gorman, a respected firefighter who served as chief of the South Berwick Fire Department for 47 years, died Saturday after a four-year battle with cancer. He was 75.

Hundreds of firefighters across southern Maine and the Seacoast region of New Hampshire are expected to gather Thursday to pay tribute to Mr. Gorman. Mourners will gather from 3 to 7 p.m. at the South Berwick Community Center, 71 Norton St.

A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of the Angels Church, 162 Agamenticus Road in South Berwick.

Mr. Gorman joined the department as a firefighter in 1965. Five years later, he was named fire chief. He was remembered Tuesday as a fierce leader who advocated for his men.

His son Patrick Gorham, a captain in the fire department, credited his father for making the department what it is today.

“We have the cleanest trucks, the cleanest station, and the best training,” he said. “We have the best up-to-date equipment to take care of us and the citizens we provide our services to. He wanted us to be ready for anything that was thrown at us.”

Lt. Nick Hamel, a 21-year veteran with the department, said Chief Gorman was firm but always gave firefighters a fair shake.

“He always made sure we were ready to go on the next call,” Hamel said. “He insisted on it that way. … He was fiercely loyal to both to the fire department and firefighters. He would always put himself in the way of whatever was coming at the guys.”

Fire Capt. Gorman remembered the last call his father made. He responded to a massive fire at a vacant Sanford mill in June.

“He was really sick, but he went anyway,” his son said. “He made my mother mad because he told her he was just going to the top of the hill to see if he could see the smoke. He ended up driving all the way to Sanford. My mother heard him on the scanner sign off at the fire. She said, ‘That son of a gun.’ He just wanted to come see his guys.”

Another hallmark of his life was his family. He was a loving husband to Simone Gorman for 51 years. The couple raised two children. His son said he was a dedicated family man who loved spending time hunting, fishing and traveling with his wife and kids.

“We had a great life,” his son said.

Mr. Gorman was diagnosed with mesothelioma about four years ago. He worked throughout the time he had cancer.

He intended to retire from the fire department, but his health declined quickly.

In late September, the department held a celebration to commemorate his years of service. More than 400 people turned out for the event.

“He was overwhelmed,” his son said, recalling the moment his father walked into the community center. “The place was packed. They gave him a huge round of applause and he started to cry. It meant a lot to him.”

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