(Written a couple Saturdays ago, just getting around to posting it so I can find it in the future.)
I attended the memorial today for Hartley, who passed away earlier this summer after a brief battle with cancer. He’s the first person who I’ve been inside a burning building, on air, with who has died.
It was 96, with humidity to match, outside — even more inside the Depression-era church my Grandmother helped raise the money to build, which is perhaps fitting because my first memory of Hartley is from a cub scout pool party at his house. To date myself, a few years later as Webelos we piled into the back of his pickup for the 25 mile trip to scout camp.
He first started running calls as a 12 year old tagging along with his dad, who served a brief but pivotal tenure as Fire Chief following World War II when our fire company lost half its membership but gained a sense of limitless ability to improve that would carry it forward for the next fifty years.
His sons gave a pair of well done eulogies. His younger son Dave, who was never a firefighter but worked in a fire-related family business, intertwined fire company, family, and community starting off after the introductory statements with, “Rockwood nozzle,” and concluding with “He would say if you had a difficult problem in life take a deep breath, think about the situation, and use Class A foam.”
His older son Bob is a long time training officer for the Manchester, New Hampshire fire department. He started by recalling a Gordon Graham video he’s played hundreds of times over the years when Gordon recalls excitedly telling his dad he had just gotten his first job, which would include sweeping floors. Gordon’s dad replies, “Well, let’s go downstairs so I can teach you how to sweep floors.”
While the broad theme was there is a right way, and wrong way, and Hartley’s way (which almost always was the right way) it wasn’t a metaphor for me since I still remember the day many years ago Hartley, while he was still Deputy Chief, grabbed one push broom and handed me the other and said, “If the trucks aren’t in the bays but you are, it’s time to sweep.”
A couple photos in my odd preference for candid people and things
At the meal afterwards...my mom & Rudy who've known each other at least since High School...
And although my Fusion never parked next to Hartley's ride at a fire or the station...it is the last time one of my vehicles will be next to his.
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