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December 7, 2013

Raymond Thatcher dies after heart surgery

Former Essex County emergency services director remembered

TICONDEROGA — Former Essex County Emergency Services Director Raymond Thatcher died Thursday following heart surgery.

Thatcher, 69, was director from 1990 to 2008, a span that included the 1998 Ice Storm and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He was also Ticonderoga fire chief in the mid to late 1980s and a member of Ticonderoga Town Council during the same period.

A lifelong Ticonderoga resident, Thatcher died at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

His friends and co-workers remember him as a caring individual who worked to help the public during disasters and emergencies.

‘WIDELY RESPECTED’

Former Clinton County Emergency Services Director James King was one of Mr. Thatcher’s contemporaries and often worked with him on disaster relief.

“Ray had a large empathy for people,” King said Friday. “He wanted to make sure they were as well taken care of as possible during a disaster, whether it was a fire or a climate disaster, such as floods or the Ice Storm or snowstorms. 

“He was a very ethical person.”

One of Thatcher’s chief projects was the new Essex County public-safety radio system that is nearing completion now. He argued repeatedly that the 1950s-era system was failing.

“When he was in deliberations in the political side, he had all his information, he made sure he had the right facts,” King said. 

“He walked into the (Essex County) Board of Supervisors’ chambers well prepared. He wanted to take care of the citizens of Essex County whenever there was a problem his office was in charge of. 

“He was very professional and well thought of across the state of New York.”

‘FINE GENTLEMAN’

Mr. Thatcher believed in having the best-trained personnel possible, King said.

“He was very astute in hazmat and arson teams. He made sure they had the proper training and gear. We were the first in the state to have a regionalization program. 

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