By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – Phil Kittredge is a Renaissance man of sorts. A recently retired longtime member of the Westborough Fire Department, he is also an amateur historian, who has collected – and donated – numerous photos and other items to various town groups and departments. But as committed as he has been to those endeavors, there is another area that really touches his heart, he said – serving as the president of the Westborough Food Pantry.
Kittredge grew up in Westborough with another familiar face on the current force, Fire Chief Nick Perron. Initially he attended college in Boston, intending to study electronics. But a massive fire he observed in Kenmore Square left him “pretty impressed” with the work of the firefighters on scene.
“I knew then that's what I wanted to do,” he said. “I joined [the Westborough Fire Department] in 1971 and have had no regrets.”
At the beginning of his career, he and his colleagues mostly provided basic firefighting services, he said. Now, they provide fire, rescue and emergency medical services.
“We were one of the first towns in the area to provide intermediate services,” he said. “Every day our paramedics save lives. An example is attending to someone having a heart attack. We can help minimize the damage.”
Kittredge retired late last year after over 40 years. That allows him to focus on his work with the Westborough Food Pantry, which is located in the Forbes Community House, 9 East Main St.
Each week he spends several days overseeing the pantry, which serves approximately 70 to 80 families.
“It changes week to week,” he said, “depending on people's circumstances. I am thrilled to be part of this organization that can help.”
Kittredge noted that 80 percent of items are donated through collection bins at local grocery stores and the fire station.
“Roche Bros. has been incredibly generous,” he added. “They have been the best partner we'se had. They are a great neighbor.”
“[Former State Representative] Karyn Polito has been a great friend, too,” he added. “She has helped raise a lot of money for us.”
Kittredge has also long been known as one of the town's foremost experts on local history, something that has interested him since high school. Bit by bit over the years he started building up a collection until he then started “aggressively searching”? and letting dealers know the types of things he was seeking.
That paid off when a dealer in Sandwich contacted him about an amazing find – a box that held rare, old municipal books from Westborough's past.
“One book from 1830 was about the formation of the Westborough Fire Department,” he said. ????”Another was the department's first log book.”
Like many items in his collection, these will be donated to the town, he said. Preliminary plans are to display them in a case when the town's new fire station is built later this year.
Although he is retired from the Fire Department, Kittredge is still running his part-time business, Noreast Antiques, repairing and selling old toys. He is also starting a new gig this spring, driving the steam engine at the Ecotarium in Worcester.
“That's going to be fun,” he said. “I's really looking forward to that.”
The public is invited to an open house at the Westborough Food Pantry Friday, April 12, from 3 to 7 p.m. For more information on the pantry's services or to make a donation, go to http://westboroughfoodpantry.org.