Lifelong Wellfleet resident Warren Franklin Dyer, who was the town’s first full-time fire chief and keeper of the ship’s time clock at the Congregational Church, died on Oct. 21, 2022. He was 94.
The son of Raymond and Nellie (Rose) Dyer, Warren was born prematurely on June 22, 1928. To keep him warm in his precarious physical state, he was put in a shoe box in the oven — with the door open, of course. After his kids heard that story, they teasingly called him “half-baked.”
Warren grew up in a house near West Main Street where the family kept chickens and cows and grew their own vegetables. In those years families would barter vegetables, eggs, and milk, with cows from local homesteads grazing in a meadow near High Toss.
Warren attended the Wellfleet Consolidated School, but before he graduated he was drafted into the Navy in 1948. In 1950, while still in the service, he married Marilyn Amelia Maker, whom he had known all his life. According to his daughter Heidi, Marilyn had had a crush on Warren since the third grade. Their marriage lasted 70 years.
Although Warren served during the Korean War, his ship was based in the Mediterranean and used primarily in support of other far-flung Navy vessels.
After his discharge, he returned to Wellfleet, graduated from high school, started working in construction, and in 1952 joined the fire department. He became its chief in 1973, a position he held until retirement in 1983.
Warren also operated Ye Olde Helpee Selfee Laundry in the Commercial Street building that is now Mac’s Shack. In front was a laundromat; in the back, Warren and his family laundered linens for cottage colonies in the summer.
He was active in the Wellfleet chapter of the Rough Riders Horse Club, which housed horses in a corral in town and hosted riding events for local families. He was also a member of the Adams Masonic Lodge, serving as master in 1965, 1966, and again in 1986.
Warren was responsible for maintaining and adjusting the ship’s clock in the Congregational Church, and he served on the Wellfleet Elementary School Committee from 1962 to 1969.
Warren was known to his nieces and nephews as a prankster and was even called “Uncle Joker.” He sometimes placed fake road signs in neighbors’ driveways.
Warren is survived by his sister Katherine Tesson and by two daughters: Amy Kmiec Patterson and husband Bruce of Wellfleet, and Heidi Dyer and wife Martha Wheeler of Wellfleet. He also leaves seven grandchildren: Adrien Kmiec and wife Kathryn of Wellfleet; Ainsley Kmiec of Wellfleet; Alexis Kmiec Topolski and husband Morgan of Charleston, Maine; Ariana Kmiec of Wellfleet; Arielle Patterson Day and husband Joshua of Charleston, Maine; Amelia Patterson of Charleston, Maine; and Rachael Dyer of Wellfleet; and 13 great-grandchildren: Kayla, Taylor, Addison, Gideon, Silas, Gabriella, Ashton, Henry, Zachary, Drake, Meredith, Warren and Tristan.
Warren was predeceased by his wife, Marilyn Amelia (Maker) Dyer; his sister Agnes Belanger; his brother, William Dyer; his son, Herbert Raymond Dyer; and his granddaughter Jessica Lynn Dyer.
Funeral services will be private. A celebration of Warren’s life will be held at Wellfleet Preservation Hall from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29. All are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, donations may go to the Wellfleet Firemen’s Relief Association, P.O. Box 602, Wellfleet 02667 or to a charity of one’s choice.