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Lisbon loses community pillar

Andross spent 56 years on fire department

June 02, 2010
LISBON–A pillar of the community was lost last week with the death of Harry Andross, who had served on the Fire Department for 56 years.

Andross died last Tuesday at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon at the age of 83. His funeral was scheduled for yesterday.

One thing is clear; there was hardly a soul in town who did not know Andross.

"Who didn't know him? Everyone knew Harry," said G.P. Houston on Friday. Houston replaced Andross as chief in the 1990s. Andross had been chief for 40 years.

Bob Clark, who served under Andross first as a fireman and for 10 years as assistant chief, said Andross was the consummate fireman.

"He got the best out of everyone," Clark said. "He had a pretty good bark when he needed to but he didn't have to do it too often."

Clark described Andross as a good guy to work with and for, someone who would always make the job of his firefighters a lot easier.

"He would always be the first one on the scene," Clark said. "We would get there and he would be coming out of a house coughing and eyes watering, barely able to see."

Andross would get the fire call at home before the siren called everyone else out and would usually always get to the scene first, Clark said. He would often go into a house to make sure everyone was out and to scout the best way to fight the fire. Sometimes he would get people out of the buildings on his own. When fire crews arrived they were immediately given directions as to the best way to fight the fire.

"He was usually right," Clark said. "He didn't go into a house if it was fully engulfed but if it was smoking or just starting he might."

As the department modernized and breathing apparatus became more common, Andross made sure he got his department equipped, Clark said. The department would train all the time, sometimes in the town building where firefighters would go in blindfolded to simulate being unable to see in a fire and trying to navigate over obstacles such as tables.

Clark said Andross was a great person, great friend and a great family man.

"He was very dedicated to the town, not just to the Fire Department, if someone needed something, they said to just call Harry," Clark said.

Charlotte Derosia, who has served as the town clerk for 43 years, also served as deputy fire warden under Andross. She said his dedication was just as strong even in his later years.

"During the last year or two Harry wouldn't go to the fire, he would standby at the station when the crews went out," Derosia, whose offices are above the fire station, said. "It was sad because he really still wanted to go but couldn't."

Regan Pride, the town administrator, said with the loss of Andross a lot of institutional history and memory is lost, information that might not be written down, from something as simple as where something might be kept, to when a particularly large fire, flood or rescue might have taken place.

Andross was born in Littleton and served in the U.S. Army in Korea. He was a self-employed plumbing, heating, and electrical contractor for many years.

Even though gone, the tradition of service is not gone as his son Thomas is the head dispatcher at Twin State Mutual Aid in Haverhill.

Andross is survived by his wife Agnes (Harrigan) Andross, of Lisbon, his son Richard and wife Elizabeth (Coombs), of Franconia, daughter Barbara and husband Gregory Odell, of Dalton, son Thomas and wife Sharie (Webster), of Lisbon, and six grandchildren.

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