George Cressey Obituary photo

George Cressey II, a co-founder of W.C. Cressey & Son Inc. and longtime firefighter for Kennebunk Fire Rescue, died Thursday after a five-year battle with kidney disease. He was 69.

Mr. Cressey was remembered this week as a beloved Kennebunk resident.

“He lived his life the way he wanted with the people he loved,” said his wife, Susan Cressey, retired principal of Kennebunk High School. “He was a quiet man with a heart of gold. He had this gruff exterior, but he had a big heart. All he wanted was to help people.”

Mr. Cressey was an accomplished businessman who operated W.C. Cressey & Son Inc., a school bus distributor. The business was founded in a spare bedroom-turned-office in Kennebunk in 1979. Cressey started the business with his father as the Thomas Built Buses dealer for Maine and New Hampshire. In 2016, he turned the business over to his son, Brian Cressey.

His wife reflected on his success and the relationships he built with customers throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

“George had a lot of friends in Maine,” she said. “He really enjoyed his customer relationships.”

Mr. Cressey and his wife were married for 45 years and lived in Kennebunk, where they raised two sons. His wife said he was a great father who inspired his sons to give back to the community.

“I think they watched him and inherited his dedication to his customers,” his wife said. “He taught them to do things the right way … to always take the high road and to have integrity. He really felt his customers came first and deserved the best and I think he inspired that in them.”

Mr. Cressey was a firefighter at Kennebunk Fire Rescue. He joined the department in 1967 as a member of the Washington Hose Company, but transferred to Central Station in 1970. He was an ambulance attendant for Kennebunk Rescue, holding the rank of EMS lieutenant for 10 years.

In 2019, he was presented a Meritorious Service Award recognizing 53 years of service. His wife said he was a mentor to young firefighters, and his legacy was inspiring young people to pursue careers in firefighting.

His wife shared a story of a young mother whose baby had stopped breathing.

“George always told me as soon as they started the ambulance he heard the baby cry,” his wife recalled. “He said he was crying as he was driving to the hospital. There were many stories like that about how caring and patient he was with people in a crisis like that.”

In recent years, he was instrumental in the restoration and maintenance of Engine 102, a retired firetruck. The truck will be on view during his calling hours from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Bibber Memorial Chapel in Kennebunk.

Mr. Cressey was a member of Arundel Lodge No. 76 AF&AM in Kennebunkport and the Kennebunk Fire Society. At the time of his passing, he was president of the Kennebunk Fire Department Combination A.

He was an active member and past president of the Kennebunk Fish & Game Club. His wife said he had a passion for the outdoors, especially fishing, and passed that onto his sons.

A highlight of his life was spending time with his grandchildren. His wife said they called him grampy.

“He was so pleased to have the five grandchildren,” she said. “His only regret was that he didn’t have more time to take them fishing and for rides in the fire truck.”

Mr. Cressey was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney disease about five years ago. His wife said he was hit by a car when he was 6 years old, and almost died. He also lost a kidney.

“We always looked at it like he had those extra years,” his wife said. “The hard part for me is not having anyone to share everything. In recent months, we would pick up breakfast and go sit by the ocean. We treasured that time. I think he knew the end was coming. He was so caring in trying to prepare me. He was trying to teach me how to do things.”

Cressey’s death comes less than two months after the passing of his sister, Kimberlee Cressey, who died on April 5.

“It’s uncanny that it would happen so soon,” said his wife. “It’s just unbelievable. George fought a courageous battle and held on as long as he could.”

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