Calvin “Jake” Parris was an almost larger-than-life man, who made it no secret to those who knew him what his passions in life were—the volunteer fire service, the Patchogue Forty Thieves Drill Team, and to be a winner at whatever he did. An influential man who usually got his way, Jake’s steadfast work ethic, unselfish manner and keen sense of humor made him one of the most popular men to ever belong to the Patchogue Fire Department. “Popsie,” as he was affectionately known to many, was the proverbial engine that kept things running, no matter what task or job.
Jake was born in East Patchogue on July 16, 1925. He participated on the North Patchogue Fire Department junior drill team in the 1930’s and it was there Jake caught “drill team fever.” He joined the Van Guard Hose Company of the Patchogue Fire Department in 1954. In 1965 Jake was instrumental in returning the Forty Thieves to motorized drill competition after an almost 10-year absence, working tirelessly on the trucks and equipment to ensure that the Forty Thieves had every chance to be winners. Jake also became the team’s coach, a position he held until 1996. Di transformed the Forty Thieves from just a co rnpetiti tunni to a dominant champior greatest accomplishments ever achieved by a New York State Firematic drill team. I the team his top priority, it was not out of character for him to generously help anoth in need of a part or some equipment just so they could continue to participate. It wa rival, but a true friend as well.
In 1969, Jake was awarded the New York State Fireman of the Year award, the highest achievement a volunteer can attain in the state, for rescuing two fellow firemen from certain death in Patchogue in 1968. In 1990 Jake was made an Honorary Chief of the Patchogue Fire Department in recognition for his countless contributions to the department over the years. Sadly, in Novement 2009 Jake passed away in Florida at the age of 84. In July 2011, a section of Park Street in Patchogue where the Van Guard firehouse is located was dedicated and renamed “Jake Parris Way” to honor all he had done and all he meant to the Patchogue Fire Department, the Forty Thieves Drill Team and the Patchogue community. And also because, as it was said at the dedication that day, Jake will now forever have his way.