Anthony J. Gresko, leader of firefighters in Pitman

Anthony J. Gresko
Anthony J. Gresko
Posted: August 23, 2013

When Anthony J. Gresko was a child in Lyndhurst, N.J., he and his best friend would ride their bicycles to local fires.

"He had a little hose on the back of the bike," as if it were a miniature fire truck, his wife, Esther, said.

Mr. Gresko's interest in firefighting, she said, was "a boyhood thing, and he carried it right through to the end."

On Sunday, Aug. 18, Mr. Gresko, 52, of Pitman, a prominent firefighter, died of kidney cancer at his home.

Mr. Gresko was chief of Pitman Fire Company No. 1 from 1989 to 1998, his wife said.

He served as Pitman fire chief from 1999 to 2007, overseeing all three fire companies.

Then he went back to run No. 1 in 2007 and 2008, she said, tutoring a prospective chief or two "to help them get ready for the position."

Born in Hackensack, N.J., Mr. Gresko graduated from Pitman High School in 1979.

"He started out as a draftsman in Pitman" for a military contractor, his wife said. He became a general manager of a garden center in Cherry Hill and then of a nursery there.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Gresko became a mechanic at Emergency Products Inc. in Thorofare, a service center for emergency vehicles such as ambulances. This year, Mr. Gresko retired as the firm's vice president of operations.

Mr. Gresko was a member of the New Jersey State Firemen's Association and the Pitman Ambulance Association.

In the late 1990s, he established the Pitman Fire Explorers, a Boy Scout troop, and was a member of the Pitman Fourth of July Parade Committee.

During the last three years, his wife said, he taught at the Gloucester County and Salem County Fire Academies.

"He got involved in everything he could," she said.

Besides his wife of 32 years, Mr. Gresko is survived by his mother, Magdalene; sons Andrew, John, Matthew, and Alexander; a daughter, Annastacia; a brother; two sisters; and a granddaughter.

Visitations were set from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, and 9 to 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 23, at the Kelley Funeral Home, 125 Pitman Ave., Pitman, before a Funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Friday at Mater Ecclesiae Church, 261 Cross Keys Rd., Berlin.

Donations may be made to the Crozer-Keystone Burn Foundation, Lewis House, 1 Medical Center Blvd., Upland, Pa. 19013.

Condolences may be offered to the family at

Contact Walter F. Naedele at 610-313-8134, or follow on Twitter @WNaedele.

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