Theodore Jewett Photos courtesy of Jewett family

Theodore Jewett, longtime store manager for Deering Lumber and a Biddeford call firefighter, died Saturday after a years-long fight with brain cancer. He was 76.

Mr. Jewett served on the call force for the Biddeford Fire Department for 30 years. From 2005 to 2007, he was a training officer.

His wife, Bette Lou Jewett of Saco, shared stories Wednesday about his years with the fire department. She recalled nights he would wake up in the middle of the night to respond to fire calls. On those nights, she would stay awake and listen to the scanner, she said.

“Firefighting was his love,” she said. “As soon as that thing would ring, he was gone. Sometimes he would take my son with him. My son would call me four hours later and say, ‘Dad wouldn’t let me call you before, but he’s at the hospital. He’s all right, but he kind of had some smoke inhalation.’ I didn’t get to sleep when he was gone because I didn’t trust that he was all right.”

His wife said he was hard-working, and quick to help someone in need.

“He loved helping people and saving people,” his wife said. “One time I was on the turnpike with him. We were heading south near the Wells exit and a car headed north went off the road and hit a tree. He stopped the car. He ran across the turnpike and pulled the guy out of the car. His wife was dead. He leaned the guy against a tree and comforted him until rescue arrived.”

Mr. Jewett and his wife were married for 55 years, lived in Saco and raised three children. His wife reminisced about meeting him at the former Medfield State Hospital in Massachusetts. He worked on the hospital’s dairy farm and she was an occupational therapy assistant. She said they met through the hospital’s employee club.

“He used to tell our children that I was a patient there,” she said laughing. “He had been kind of watching me. Since he’s gone, I’ll tell you the story.

Paul LaBrecque, Kevin Duross, Mike Willett, back row David Pendleton visit firefighter Theodore Jewett at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough.

“I had a brand-new Volkswagen Beetle and had a schedule of when it needed an oil change,” she continued. “So, he said, ‘Do you want to get together tonight?’ I said I have to bring my car for an oil checkup at 7 p.m. He was mad. He thought I blew him off. I had the little book and tried to explain. He didn’t talk to me for about two months after my appointment. He finally asked me out again.”

His wife said he was a dedicated family man who worked hard to provide a good life for his family. Early on, he worked two or three jobs: as a roofer, construction laborer and manager for a lumber company.

Most recently, he worked for Deering Lumber as manager of its Biddeford and Kennebunk stores. He retired in 2005 after 22 years with the company. He wife said he often helped friends with home projects.

“He was always helping anybody who needed it. That was just him,” his wife said.

Mr. Jewett also took great pride in the family’s home.

“We have a beautiful yard with lots of trees and flowers, birds and wildlife,” she said. “He was always out there, making something better.”

His daughter Amy Reynolds sat near her mother crying during Wednesday’s phone interview. She said her father was supportive and non-judgmental.

“He was very proud and wanted the best for all of us,” Reynolds said. “I’m proud to be his daughter.”

At age 60, Mr. Jewett got his first of many brain tumors. His wife and daughter cared for him at home until recently. He died at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough.

“It was awful,” his wife said. “He has been disabled all this time and I’ve been taking care of him. He never gave up, but his body finally gave out on him.”

On July 24, the day before Mr. Jewett died, members of the Biddeford and Saco Fire Departments paid tribute to him outside his window at Gosnell Memorial. His wife said there was a glimmer of pride on his face. He knew they were there, she said.

“It was very moving,” said David Pendleton, deputy chief of the Saco Fire Department, one of the firefighters who paid tribute. “It was sad to know it turned out to be the last time we saw him alive. I hope Ted recognized we were there, and it was comforting to him.”

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