Shail will be ‘missed unbelievably by all’
A dedicated, community-oriented resident of Bridgewater has died.
Don Shail, who was a 50-year member of the Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department, died April 14.
He is survived by two children, Scott Shail and his wife, Laura, of Bridgewater, and a daughter, Keli Green and her husband Tom of New Hampshire, and three grandchildren.
Don had been in failing health in recent months and had been hospitalized at the time of his death. Scott said the cause of his father’s death is unrelated to COVID-19, but his father had tested positive for the disease caused by the virus.
“He was the most giving and caring person you could ever meet,” Scott said Sunday of his father. “Whatever needed to be done, he took care of it.”
Don dedicated his life to his family, having taken care of his late wife Sally when she battled cancer, and to the community.
He drove the senior center bus for many years and was a member of the town’s board of finance for more than 20 years.
He had served as treasurer of the fire department since the late 1970s and had been chairman of the Bridgewater Country Fair for nine years.
Don coached Bridgewater Little League and was a member of the Danbury PALS.
“He was very, very community oriented,” Scott said of his father.
Don’s involvement with the fire department began in 1971 when he was asked by a neighbor, Eddie Ferris, to help cook chicken behind Burnham School for the fair.
Soon after, he joined the department.
He later ran the chicken tent for more than a decade.
Ron Rotter, fire department chief, said Don was “a tremendous help to me when I moved to town 10 years ago (and) welcomed me with open arms.”
Rotter described his friend as being “truly dedicated to the town and fire department” and who “always had a smile on his face.”
“I never heard him say a bad word about anyone,” he said. “He was very upbeat, funny. Just a really great guy.”
“He is going to be missed unbelievably by all,” Rotter said.
Eric Gsell, president of the fire department, emphasized Shail’s dedication to the town and fire department.
“He put so much heart into everything he did,” said Gsell, who knew Shail for 16 years and served as assistant fair chairman.
Scott described his father’s commitment.
“Ever since his retirement, he mowed the lawns (for the department) forever and ever,” Scott said. “Whatever the fire department needed, he would do.”
Don retired from Barden Precision Bearings in Danbury, where he worked for nearly 40 years as a design engineer.
He had worked on a bearing cage that had a patent in his name.
After his retirement, he worked for Wetmore’s.