At the Portola Fire Department on June 8, Chester Vance’s daughter Rachelle Ramelli, left, and her husband Greg, center, learn that Darrel Maddalena’s family will donate money to Portola Fire in Vance’s name. Photo by David Nickerson

Donation made to PVFD in honor of devoted volunteer

Darrell Maddalena presented a check to the Portola Fire Department on June 8 in memory of Chester Vance, a devoted volunteer of the department from 1949 to 1994.

Vance passed away in January at the age of 93. The check was written by Maddalena’s parents Guido and Adrienne, both of whom knew Vance well because Guido volunteered at the fire department around the same time as Vance.

Vance’s daughter Rachelle Ramelli and her husband Greg were invited to the department when the check was delivered, but they were kept in the dark about the purpose of the event until the check was presented by Maddalena.

Rachelle Ramelli said, “It was an honor” when shown the check dedicated to her father’s memory and said that the event was very special.

Her husband Greg, who currently serves as the assistant chief of the fire department, commented that the check was fitting because “the fire department was [Vance’s] baby.”

During his 45-year tenure at the fire department, Vance served in a variety of roles, including assistant chief and chief, and was so well respected that he was named Fireman of the Year in 1981.

Vance also served in the army during WWII and later worked for the city of Portola until he decided to retire.

Rachelle Ramelli sent a written statement to the Reporter which said that Maddalena’s donation “will add to the other generous donations also given to the Portola Volunteer Fire Department,” adding that other donations have been given in Vance’s memory to Portola High School and the Masonic Lodge.

According to volunteer fireman Henry Johnson, the money from the donation will be used to buy much needed equipment, like gloves, which tend to wear out quickly.

Johnson said he was happy about the donation and was impressed by the level of loyalty that Vance seemed to have for the department.