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Community Remembers Late Portsmouth Fire Chief

Peter R. Wilkey, former fire chief for the Portsmouth Fire Department, will be laid to rest today.

Members of the will honor the late Peter R. Wilkey this morning at . 

Wilkey, 76, of Long Meadow Road, Portsmouth, passed away peacefully on Thursday, July 5, 2012, at Village House Nursing Home, Newport, surrounded by his loving family.

Born in Fall River, MA, on Dec. 27, 1935, he was the son of the late Henry W. and Elizabeth B. (Anthony) Wilkey. He was the husband of the late Elizabeth A. (Mortenson) Wilkey. Peter was a lifelong resident of Portsmouth and graduated from Rogers High School in 1954.

Peter joined the Portsmouth Fire Department in 1954 while still in high school. He served in the U.S. Army for two years, stationed at Fort Lewis, WA, where he served in the Aviation Crash/Rescue team.

Upon his release from the military, he returned to Portsmouth and rejoined the fire department. He also had a landscaping business and maintained several cemeteries in Portsmouth and was a member of the Portsmouth Cemetery Corporation. He earned a degree in Applied Fire Science from Bristol Community College in Fall River, MA. Peter served as chief of the Portsmouth Fire Department from 1979 until his retirement in 1991. He was a member of the International Association of Firefighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the RI Association of Fire Chiefs.

Peter loved to spend time with his family in Portsmouth and at the cabin in New Hampshire. He was an accomplished mechanic, welder, and carpenter, and he enjoyed all types of puzzles. He was an avid motorcyclist and went on several cross-country trips. He visited all 48 contiguous states and traveled much of Route 1, including the farthest points north and south. He was a member of the ROMEOs (Retired Old Motorcyclists Eating Out) and the RETREADS.

Peter leaves his children, Mark S. Wilkey and his wife Denise (Caron) of Portsmouth, Margaret S. Caron and her husband Mark of Portsmouth, Karen A. Wilkey of Tiverton, and Michael P. Wilkey and his wife Tricia (Ribeiro) of Portsmouth; seven grandchildren (Kimberly, Erin, Stephen, Jacob, Alyssa, Katherine, and Sean); and many nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his sisters Sylvia Stingle and Anstris Garcia.

Peter's family would like to thank the wonderful staff and volunteers at Village House for their outstanding care and support.

A memorial gathering will be held on Saturday, July 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Connors Funeral Home, 55 West Main Road, Portsmouth. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society Of Rhode Island, 931 Jefferson Boulevard, Suite 3004, Warwick, RI 02886 or the Alzheimer's Association - RI Chapter, 245 Waterman Street, Suite 306, Providence, RI 02906.

To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Peter R. Wilkey, please visit the Connor's Funeral Home's Sympathy Store.

Barbara Chace-Sherman July 14, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Chief Wilkey was always a warm and caring man. My heart goes out to his family. RIP Chief. You will be missed.
Peggy Caron July 14, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Thank you so much to all those who helped us remember our Dad (Peter) today. The family would especially like to thank the Portsmouth and Middletown Fire Departments for helping us honor him and his service to the community.

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