Retired Oak Bluffs fire chief Dennis Patrick Alley, known to all as Denny, died on May 30 at the Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, with three generations of loved ones around him. He was 80 and had been a volunteer firefighter in town since 1955, serving as chief from 1995 to 2005.

He had been unwell for a long time, and was lovingly cared for at home until four years ago, when his family relinquished his care to what his wife of 61 years, Megan, described as “the wonderful caring staff at Windemere.”

Of Portuguese and Irish descent, he was born to George and Elizabeth Alley on June 20, 1935, on Vineyard avenue (also known as Chicken street) in Oak Bluffs, where he and his brother, Kerry, grew up, well watched over by the entire neighborhood, as things were in those days.

He excelled in sports, including baseball and particularly basketball in high school, and was a scratch golfer in later life and a charter member of the Farm Neck Golf Club. He always loved hunting and scalloping. Denny was either outdoors or inside tinkering with something, with an amazing rate of fixing whatever it was.

Always good-natured, with a sense of humor that somehow managed to stay in bounds, he worked for his dad at Alley’s TV and Radio then had his own business Alley Appliance Service, but will be most remembered publicly for his work as a firefighter. A grandson of another Oak Bluffs fire chief, Antone Alley, Denny joined the department at age 18, rose to lieutenant, captain and then chief in his total of 53 years of service. In that tradition, his eldest grandson, Marques Rivers, joined as a junior fireman at 16 and is presently in the fire department in West Tisbury, where he lives.

Denny was also a member of the Holy Name Society, Sacred Heart Parish of Oak Bluffs, the Knights of Columbus, a park commissioner for the town of Oak Bluffs, one of the volunteers who built the basketball court at Niantic Park, and he helped lay the foundation for the original Nelson W. Amaral Fire Station. But beyond that, with his ever-present pipe, he will be remembered as a family man, and a happy one.

Denny first met Megan Bagley, who was born in Oak Bluffs but brought up in Vineyard Haven, through choir practice (hers, not his). Megan was in the school and Baptist Church choirs, in addition to playing the piano and cello — in the all-Island symphony in 1950. She met Denny when he came to pick up his then girl friend from choir practice and give her a ride home. They were not yet a couple.

In their senior year of high school (1952-53), when the first choir girlfriend was history, he and Megan began to date. Then after graduation, Megan went off to the University of New Hampshire. She says she enjoyed her year and almost went back for a second, but got engaged to Denny instead.

They married a year later, on Sept. 8, 1955, when she was 19 and he was 20. Among his many sides and aspects, Denny was best known as the husband of Megan and the father of their three kids: Dion, Mary and Kati. In a measure of true Christian spirit, courage and compassion, he and Megan adopted all three children, beginning with Dion in 1958.

Daughter Mary, the next in line, quipped, “And they didn’t give us back.” Kati said: “I don’t care what anybody says, I am my father’s daughter and if you have any doubts about that, just ask me my opinion on something.” She added that their brother has all of Denny’s fierce tenacity. And times were not easy then, Denny and Megan worked by day and he moonlighted for Whiting Milk Co, loading ice onto the trucks at 3 a.m., when the kids were little.

They were the kind of knitted family that is hard to find in these times. Megan said: “I want everyone to know that Denny loved his God, his family and his town.”

In addition to his wife and three children, he is survived by his brother Kerry and his wife Pat, daughter in law Debra Alley and son in law David; nine grandchildren, Marques Rivers and his wife Sarah, Matthew Rivers and his wife Melanie, Nicholas Rivers and his wife Melissa, Christopher Alley, Samuel Alley and his wife Jamie, Benjamin Alley, Paige Alley, Talia Rogers and her husband John, and Jeremy Alley-Tarter. There are also five great-grandchildren, Kayla deBettencourt, Isaiah Geddis, Michael Dickson, Ethan Rivers and Eagan Gibson, and numerous nephews, nieces and cousins.

A funeral mass was celebrated on Friday, June 3, at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Oak Bluffs.

“This is a very sad day in the history of our department and community,” Oak Bluffs fire chief John Rose wrote in an email that went out to the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts. “He will be sorely missed by this department and the entire community.”

Donations in his memory can be made to the Windemere Recreational Fund, P.O. Box 1747, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 or to the Good Shepherd Parish Assessment Fund, PO Box 1058, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.