MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon came together as one on Wednesday, Nov. 12, to celebrate one of the city’s finest and bravest, with the dedication of Fire Headquarters Station 1, which will now forever be known as James. D. Gleason Memorial Fire Headquarters.
City officials were joined by a host of firefighters, administrators and members of the Gleason family in City Council Chambers for an emotional dedication to the longtime Mount Vernon fire commissioner, who called the city home for 50 years before dying of lung cancer in 2013.
An emotional Mayor Ernest Davis, who was among Gleason’s closest confidants, said that his friend’s memory and legacy will be preserved in Mount Vernon forever.
“You meet a lot of people in politics, most are superficial, and there’s a lot of them you wish you hadn’t met,” he said. “As I say this, that opens up the door to the talented few that make an indelible difference in your life, and that’s Jimmie.”
Gleason has been credited with improving firehouse infrastructure, spreading awareness of fire prevention and improving the working conditions of the firefighters that looked up to him as commissioner.
His daughter, Cathlin Gleason-Boncardo, continuing her father’s Mount Vernon legacy, said that the community needs to step up to make the city the place her father envisioned.
“This is a great city that my father stood up for. He knew that and he saw that,” she said. “People need to work together to make a difference, because I believe in this city.”
City Council President Roberta Apuzzo, another friend of the Gleason family, credited the commissioner for serving as a source of inspiration and wisdom in the last few months of his life.
“I learned so much about life in those last few months. The values he has instilled in his family are incredible,” she said. “Our memories of him will linger on. He’s the last of a great generation of gentleman.”
In bidding goodbye to his friend, Davis said that it’s vital that the newly named fire headquarters remind the community about how much potential lies in the people of Mount Vernon.
“It’s not important the length of time you’ve lived, what matters is what you do with that time,” he added. “That’s not just a name on a building, it’s the life and legacy of the person whose name is on that building.”
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