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Memorial Service Saturday for Fanwood Rescue Squad VP John Oatis

Oatis is a past president of the Rescue Squad and was active despite being diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma nearly three years ago.

John Oatis, a 36-year member of the Fanwood Rescue Squad and friend to many in the Fanwood-Scotch Plains community, died last week. Photo credit: Courtesy Memorial Funeral Home
John Oatis, a 36-year member of the Fanwood Rescue Squad and friend to many in the Fanwood-Scotch Plains community, died last week. Photo credit: Courtesy Memorial Funeral Home
Written by fellow rescue squad member, Tom Kranz.

A memorial service for John Oatis, a 36-year member of the Fanwood Rescue Squad and friend to many in the Fanwood-Scotch Plains community, will be held at Fanwood Presbyterian Church on July 13 at 11:30 a.m. 

Oatis died June 23 at his home on Watson Road in Fanwood. He was 69.

John joined the Rescue Squad in October 1978, shortly after the squad's new building on Watson Road was built. John lived directly across the street. 

John is a past president of the Rescue Squad (two terms) and was active despite being diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma almost three years ago. He participated in this year's Memorial Day ceremony and parade (see photo).

John responded to 2,113 calls during his 36 year membership in FRS and was serving as vice president at the time of his death. He worked as a realtor.

John participated in the birth of his daughter, Holly in the back of a rescue squad ambulance in 1981. The squad was racing his wife Bonnie to Overlook Hospital but Holly couldn't wait and was born in the ambulance just a few blocks from the emergency room entrance. 

In addition to his wife Bonnie and daughter Holly, John is also survived by his son Keith, two grandchildren, Finlay and Drake, and a brother, Richard.

Living across the street from the Squad, John was always the unofficial caretaker of the building. Any time he saw a light on, he'd wander over to see what was going on. It was reassuring to have someone so close who worried about the building and the squad in general. He really loved the Rescue Squad. We're really going to miss him.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Fanwood Rescue Squad or Clean Ocean Action. Arrangements are by Memorial Funeral Home in Fanwood.

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Oatis's obituary, as published on the Memorial Funeral Home website:

John A. Oatis, 69, passed away at his home on Sunday, June 23, 2013. Born in East Orange, he grew up in Summit and moved to Fanwood in 1977.

John proudly served his country with the US Army in Germany during the Vietnam Era. He graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Following a long career in the insurance industry, he was most recently employed as a real estate agent with ERA Suburb Realty in Scotch Plains. He was a longtime member of the Fanwood Rescue Squad, having joined in 1978. He was also a member of Fanwood Presbyterian Church.

He is survived by his loving wife, Bonnie S. Oatis; his son, Keith A. Oatis and his wife Brandi of Seymour, CT; his daughter, Holly A. Oatis of New York; his mother, Dorothy M. Oatis of Summit, NJ; his brother, Richard W. Oatis of Howell, NJ; and his two beloved grandchildren, Finlay and Drake. 

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