carhartA plaque outside the Navesink Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1’s building on Mechanic Street announces the death of Calvin Carhart, who had been the oldest living past chief. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


Calvin Carhart, a public servant and volunteer since graduating high school and who had been Red Bank’s oldest living former fire chief, died Thursday at the age of 89.

The cause was cancer, his wife of 67 years, Ada, said.

“It’s a big loss for the department,” said Chief Alan Soden. “It’s a big thing.”

Carhart is survived by Ada and four sons, one of whom served as chief of the Wall Township Fire Department.

Carhart joined the Red Bank department, which is volunteer, in 1945 and served until 1981, when he moved to Middletown. In the years up until his death, Carhart stayed involved with the department as an inactive member, Ada Carhart said.

His roots in public service were planted long before his days in Red Bank, she said. Carhart was a P-47 pilot in World War II in the Army Air Corps, and flew on D-Day, she said. He left the Army when Ada became pregnant and the couple decided to raise a family over the stressful military life.

“He just loved it. He would have stayed in the service if we didn’t have a child,” she said.

So he took the next best option and joined the Red Bank department, and became chief in 1965.

“It was a duty of his and he loved it,” Ada Carhart said. His dedication to volunteerism was passed on to his sons, she said, “it was about a family thing.”

When not waking up in the middle of the night to put out fires, Carhart was the manager of Monmouth Radio Supply Company on the corner of Newman Springs Road and Shrewsbury Avenue before he and Ada bought the business. The couple sold the business and retired in the early 1980s. Since then, the Carharts split their time between Middletown and Florida.

A 1939 graduate of Red Bank High School, now Red Bank Regional High School, Carhart was entered into the school’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame in 2008.

Ada Carhart said she remembers Calvin as “well-liked, friendly. The boys are all proud of him.” And having raised four sons, she and Calvin always had to have a sense of humor, she said.

“He was just a great all-around person,” she said. “If he wasn’t, I would have left him.”