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08/03/2023 11:53 AM

John A. Bodner

On July 21, John A. Bodner, 85, a lifelong resident of Madison, passed away at his home. Mr. Bodner was born in Madison on April 13, 1938, son of the late John Bodner and Erna (Schumann) Bodner.

John graduated from Daniel Hand High School in 1956, where he played soccer and co-captained the team his senior year. John also attended Eli Whitney Technical School, where he found his love of automotive mechanics. Throughout his career as a mechanic, John worked at Madison Garage, Heller Chevrolet, and Hammonasset Ford.

When he turned 20, John became a volunteer firefighter joining Madison Hose Company No. 1 and spent 65 years in the department. Committed to serving others and using his love of mechanics, John restored the department’s 1926 Childs pumper truck to parade condition with Bill Lawlor in the early 1970s. In 1977, John helped start the Junior Firefighter program with Sam DeBurra Sr., where he mentored and inspired dozens of juniors, who went on to become volunteers and paid first responders. John was honored by the Madison Rotary Club in 1995 and the Exchange Club in 2000 for his service with the department. Even after retirement, John loved attending fire department musters and antique apparatus shows all over the Eastern half of the country and even owned his own 1940s Ward-LaFrance pumper.

Whether you were part of the family, worked with him, or were his friend, it was an honor to know this man. Known for his sense of humor, you knew John liked you if you were a target of his good-natured ribbing.

John enjoyed all things related to cars, trucks, and working with his hands. In his younger years, he was part of a friend’s stock car racing team. More recently, he spent time enjoying watching NASCAR on television. As a kid, John would ride his bike along the shore, selling flowers from his father’s garden to the summer residents. In more recent years, he loved riding his bike at Hammonasset Park and would joke that even at his age, he could ride with no hands touching the handlebars.

John is survived by his wife of 63 years, Judy. He was the loving father to daughter Debbie and her husband Hans Dekkers of Killingworth; and son Michael and his wife Sarah Bodner of Dunmore, Pennsylvania; and cherished big brother to sister Linda Boyd and her husband Bruce Boyd of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. John was predeceased by his sister Evelyn Bodner. He is also survived by his extended family and many friends.

A memorial celebration of John’s life will be held on Aug. 12. His brother firefighters and immediate family will accompany John from Madison Hose Company No. 1 at 9:30 a.m. to a 10 a.m. graveside service at West Cemetery in Madison. John will be lovingly remembered for his kindness, patience, and wildly funny sense of humor. All are welcome to join John’s family at the cemetery in saying goodbye to a great husband, father, and friend and share memories at the firehouse after the service.

A special thank you to the wonderful doctors and nurses of Smilow Cancer Center and Home Care Plus Hospice for their care during John’s illness. In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions in John’s memory can be made to Madison Hose Company No. 1, Madison, CT, or The Smilow Cancer Hospital Closer To Free Fund.