One of the most senior members of the Elmont Fire Department, John “Jack” Mildner, died on June 17 at age 84. Mildner, who in April shared his favorite firefighting memories with the Herald in a feature on fire service veterans, was an honorary chief and served as the department’s treasurer for the past 18 years. He was an integral part of the department for 63 years.
Mildner was a lifelong resident of Elmont and had memories of when it was farmland. He said he remembered when the department had a waiting list to become a firefighter, and he had to wait two years before a spot opened up. He served in the Army during World War II, and followed in the footsteps of his father and uncles when he joined the Fire Department, as a member of Ladder Company No. 2, in 1950.
His father, Edward, was one of the 34 charter members who founded the fire company on Surprise Street. Jack could always be found wearing his father’s 1931 deputy chief’s ring. He was christened in the firehouse where he spend so much of the rest of his life.
Mildner served as president of Ladder Company No. 2 for 35 years and was company captain for two years. He was given the title of honorary chief after 50 years of service to the department and the community.
Jack and his wife, Marie, were married for 58 years, and were active members of St. Boniface Church. He served on many church committees and was involved in many of its fundraisers, including the annual St. Boniface Festival. He was buried at St. Boniface Cemetery on June 19.
Mildner was one of the most respected and recognizable residents of Elmont. Members of the Fire Department said they would remember him as a mentor and a friend, both inside and outside the firehouse.
“Jack was one of the senior members who helped pass the torch from the older generation to the newer generation,” said Michael Capoziello, an ex-chief and the chairman of the department’s Historical Committee. “He showed the younger members how to act and conduct business on and off the fire ground through his actions and great stories of the past he would tell.”
“We were his second family,” Elmont Fire Commissioner Joseph Balletta said. “It was an honor to know the man and be very good friends with him. He was very highly respected by every chief that was in office during his term as treasurer, and he gave the same respect back.”
Balletta added that the feel — and the routine — of the department will never be the same without Mildner. “We will miss him walking through the door on Sunday mornings,” Balletta said. “We will miss him at our company meetings, having a good old time. We will miss seeing him at events dressed to the hilt, smiling away.”
In addition to Marie, Mildner is survived by their three daughters and their grandchildren.