A Centerport resident has planted deep roots in the community where he grew up.
Jim Feeley has been an active volunteer in the Centerport Fire Department for the past 50 years, joining in June 1965.
During his tenure he served as chief of the department twice and a volunteer EMT on the Centerport Rescue Squad. He was a member of the board of fire commissioners and the president of the Town of Huntington Fire Chiefs Council. Last year he was named Firefighter/EMT of the Year in the 18th Legislative District.
His parents built their house on Fleets Cove Road in Centerport, and Feeley met his wife Joan while walking along Fleets Cove Beach.
“I loved living across from the golf course,” Feeley said in a phone interview. “I used to hunt and explore the grounds with my brothers.”
Feeley is a 1964 Harborfields graduate, and his wife is a graduate of Walt Whitman. When it came time to decide where to raise a family, they both agreed they wanted to continue living in Centerport.
Feeley said he remembers the exact night when he decided to join the Centerport Fire Department, back in the spring of ’65 while shooting pool with his brother at an old bar in Centerport, at just 19 years of age.
“I learned a lot about my neighborhood,” he said. “There will always be someone to help you out; someone you can trust.”
Over the years, Feeley said he had been proud of the department for its active drill team, which has participated in many tournaments, and the camaraderie and closeness of the department as a whole.
According to Feeley, the fire department used to organize multifamily camping trips in the 1970s and ‘80s, and members of the Northport Fire Department even got involved.
“These are the same guys I’ve been meeting for coffee for the past 50 years,” he said. “Everyone has each other’s back. I don’t know where else you would find that.”
Feeley reflected on some of the big fires he’s worked on in his half century with the department.
“In 1966 at Gidyes Inn in Centerport, we worked on a fire for 25 hours,” he said. Gidyes Inn used to stand on Main Street where the U.S. Post Office now stands.
Feeley remembered a fire in 1972 where he and many of his family members left the table at Thanksgiving dinner to go put out a fire on Little Neck Road. The fire had gotten so big that embers were landing on boats floating near the house, which was located on the water.
Feeley’s brother, two daughters and two nephews also volunteer at the Centerport Fire Department. His wife is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the department.
In his off time, Feeley said he enjoys gardening at the Huntington Town’s garden plot in Greenlawn on Dunlop Road and participating in the Knights of Columbus in Greenlawn.
Feeley was recently recognized for his years of service by Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) at a February Suffolk County Legislature meeting.
“James Feeley is an outstanding example of a true public servant,” Spencer said in a statement. “It is a privilege to be able to recognize and thank him for his inspiring service to our community.”