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James Belote, 73, Retired Ridgefield Deputy Fire Chief, Teacher

Longtime Ridgefield resident James Belote, 73, was a former deputy fire chief and elementary school teacher. He died Thursday, March 9, at the age of 73.
Longtime Ridgefield resident James Belote, 73, was a former deputy fire chief and elementary school teacher. He died Thursday, March 9, at the age of 73. Photo Credit: Ridgefield Fire Department

RIDGEFIELD, CONN. – Visiting hours for former Ridgefield firefighter and teacher James Belote, who died Thursday, March 9, have been set.

Friends may call from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, at the Kane Funeral Home; 25 Catoonah St., Ridgefield.

There will be no funeral services and burial will be private.

Belote, 73, was a member of the fire department for 50 years and had served as its deputy chief.

He also taught science at the East Ridge Middle School and was vice president of the Scotland Elementary School. Both schools are in Ridgefield.

The Fire Department posted on Facebook that Belote had been a member since 1967, and had served in all line officers’ positions until being elected deputy chief in 1985.

He was deputy chief until 1990, when he went on to other positions within the department, including safety/Haz-Mat training officer.

Fellows firefighters praised Belote, saying his dedication and years of service should serve as “an example to all.”

“He will forever be remembered,” they said.

Belote was born in 1943 to the late Madelyn and James Belote.

He attended school at the Venus Building and was a regular at Ridgefield Boys Club, where he eventually became a woodshop instructor.

He is a 1966 graduate of The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.

Belote’s career in education started in his hometown, where he taught biology and chemistry, using his income to help his late brother, Tom, through college and law school.

He was also a state fire warden, a longtime instructor at the Connecticut Fire Academy, a director of training for Connecticut Fire Police, where he was also a president and vice president. He was also an EMT in Ridgefield for 43 years.

Belote was a former member of The Citadel’s Alumni Association Board.

He also founded and ran a construction company for close to 30 years, and designed and built many structures in the town, including his own house and the new Ridgefield firehouse.

In his free time, Belote tinkered with classic cars. He served on the Board of Managers Classic Car Club of America for 12 years.

He is survived by his wife, Janet (Bilik); two daughters, Lauren and Jennifer; and two grandchildren, Elizabeth and Timothy.

Belote also had a step-brother, Fred, now deceased; and a step-sister, Sarah.

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