Ralph DeBolt

Ralph E. DeBolt

Monday, September 26th, 1949 - Sunday, March 10th, 2019
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Ralph E. DeBolt
Retired Fire Chief

GENEVA—Ralph E. DeBolt, 69, of Geneva passed away on Sunday, March 10, 2019, at the House of John in Clifton Springs.

Following Ralph’s wishes, there will be no prior calling hours. Private funeral services and burial in Brookside Cemetery will be held at the convenience of the family.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Wilmot Cancer Center, Golisano Children’s Hospital, Geneva Firematics or Thrive to Survive.

Ralph was born on Sept. 26, 1949, in Penn Yan the son of the late Kenneth and Mary Tobin DeBolt. He was active in the Seneca County 4H, serving as the president of the group’s equestrian club for a number of years. He earned national recognition when he was presented with the I Dare You Award by the American Youth Foundation.

Ralph graduated from DeSales High School in 1967. He completed a carpenter’s apprenticeship and worked several jobs—including as a carpenter for the family business, DeBolt Construction—before finding his life’s work as a public servant.

Ralph committed most of his adult life to the fire service. He was a life member of the C.J. Folger Hook & Ladder Company, joining the Geneva Fire Department in 1969. As a volunteer firefighter, he served as lieutenant, captain, vice president, and president of the Hook & Ladder. He was active in the company’s committee structure, most notably chairing the committee that produced the Hooks’ 100th anniversary book in 1986.

In 1973, Ralph was appointed to Geneva’s career firefighting staff, and in 1982, he was promoted to training officer. In 1986, Ralph was named acting fire chief and rose to chief of the department a year later. As chief, he ushered in a wide-range of improvements to the city’s emergency services, including building a new fire house, purchasing more advanced apparatus and firefighting equipment, and bringing enhanced 9-1-1 service to Geneva.

Ralph completed a wide range of courses at the New York State Academy of Fire Sciences and the National Fire Academy and shared his knowledge as a New York State Fire Instructor and as an adjunct instructor at the State Fire Academy.

Ralph’s commitment to the fire service extended far beyond Geneva. He served Ontario County as a volunteer deputy fire coordinator and was active in the Ontario County Fire Chiefs’ Association, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, the Career Fire Chiefs of New York State and the International Association of Arson Investigators.

Ralph retired as chief of the Geneva Fire Department in 2005. In retirement, he enjoyed playing golf, watching his grandchildren compete in youth sports and completing home improvement projects for his children.

Ralph is survived by his daughter, Michelle (Andy Wayne) DeBolt of Geneva; his son, Kenneth (Janine) DeBolt of Geneva; grandchildren, Emily and Joseph DeBolt; sister, Janice (Edward) McGuigan of Geneva; brother, Gary (Gwen) DeBolt of Fort Ann; sister-in-law, Janet DeBolt of Waterloo; and several nieces and nephews.

Ralph was predeceased by his parents, Kenneth and Mary; brother Carl DeBolt; sister and brother-in-law, Joyce and John Nolan.
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roger garrett

Posted at 06:17pm
Roger Garrett I grew up with Ralph I remember riding my bicycle to his house all the time. as we grew we started riding horses to each others house's .Ralph & Gary and myself spent a lot of happy times together . I had not seen Ralph in years ,but I often thought about he and the DeBolt so sorry to hear about his passing,

Jennifer Slywka

Posted at 10:58am
My deepest sympathy for the DeBolt family. I enjoyed working so closely with Ralph as the Fire Chief for those 7 years before he retired--many fond memories of him. Thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. He truly gave back to the City of Geneva and so many other organizations! Blessed to have known him. Take care-Jennifer Slywka

Cheryl (Tobin) Ufholz

Posted at 04:58pm
Janice, Gary, Janet & families I'm truly sorry for your loss & my heart aches for you all. He was a great man; liked, respected, loved by many. I'm so saddened losing another cousin. I reminisce our childhood yrs, visiting, playing & sharing. I envision him in HEAVEN clothed in GLORIOUS SPLENDOR, embraced by OUR BELOVED LORD & angels singing, happy he's home. I loved him, I love you all. God Bless you, comfort
& strengthen you. RIP dear cousin Ralph till we all meet again in heaven.


Mark Snyder

Posted at 04:31pm
Saddened to hear of Ralph's passing. My sincere condolences to his family. Always enjoyed my interactions with him during my career at Ontario County as well as my time living in Geneva. A true professional with the utmost knowledge of all aspects of the fire service and a trusted adviser. R.I.P.

Mark Snyder

Steve Gulvin

Posted at 08:12am
So sorry to hear about Chief DeBolt passing. I knew him from the time he became a Driver in Geneva and had contact with him through all of the years he was with the Department. He was a great mentor to me and a great friend. I will always treasure the dealings that we had both in business and firematically.
Steve Gulvin

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