Joe Mott, a Wilton firefighter and Korean War veteran who returned to active duty 40 years later in the Gulf War, died Tuesday of cancer, his family said. He was 82.
Dedicated to serving his community and country, Mr. Mott was well known in rural Wilton as a volunteer firefighter for 45 years. He joined the Wilton Fire Protection District in 1960 and worked with volunteers who remodeled old commercial trucks for use as water tankers.
He received professional training as an arson expert, served as fire marshal and was appointed twice as interim fire chief. He retired as deputy chief in 2005.
Mr. Mott settled in the southeast Sacramento County town after four years in the Navy. He enlisted in 1951 during the Korean War, served as a boiler operator and met his wife, Dorothy.
He served in the Navy Reserve while raising a family, volunteering as a firefighter and working for 25 years as an engineer at a Proctor & Gamble plant in south Sacramento. He was set to retire from reserve duty in 1991 when he was recalled by the Navy – at age 60 – to serve in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He left his 67-year-old wife and reported for duty with the Seabees as a dispatcher in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
“He was one of the oldest guys over there,” said his daughter-in-law Kim Mott. “He was happy to serve. He was patriotic his whole life to the very end.”
Mr. Mott got a hero’s welcome when he retired from the Reserve and returned to Wilton in 1992. He received the keys to a fire truck and led a parade of family members, friends, neighbors and firefighters to the community firehouse.
“He was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and gratefulness,” his daughter-in-law said.
Born Aug. 25, 1931, in Manatee, Fla., Joseph Benton Mott Jr. built a comfortable life for his family in the small, friendly town of Wilton.
He was active in community groups and activities, including Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2073, the Elk Grove Senior Center, the Western Festival Parade and the Veterans Day parade. Last December, he and his wife served as grand marshals of the Wilton Winter Festival parade and lit the town Christmas tree with Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli.
Mr. Mott sang in the choir and served as a deacon as a member of Wilton Bible Church for more than 50 years. He enjoyed deer hunting with his sons and worked out regularly as a firefighter.
“Until he was diagnosed (with cancer) in August, he was in good shape all his life,” his daughter-in-law said.
In addition to his wife of 58 years, Mr. Mott is survived by his son David, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. His son Joseph III died in 2004.
A visitation is set for noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Herberger Family Elk Grove Funeral Chapel, 9101 Elk Grove Blvd., Elk Grove. A service is planned for 10 a.m. Thursday at Wilton Bible Church, 9697 Dillard Road, Wilton.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Wilton Bible Church.