Thomas Gray Stewart III

Thomas Gray Stewart III

Submitted by his fiancee

How do I begin to explain the kind of man that Tommy was? He wasn’t perfect as none of us are‚ but he was unique. Tommy was a leader‚ not a follower. He spoke is mind whether those agreed with him or not. I’m sure all the newspaper articles can tell you about the hero who went into the burning building to save three little sisters‚ but he was just like you and I. When the call came in we were laying in bed-they reported people trapped‚ children trapped and that was all Tommy needed to hear. He jumped up‚ kissed me goodbye and out the door he went. I asked him not to go‚ but despite my request he said he had to go. Babies were trapped. With that said‚ how could I argue with him‚ he was a father‚ not just a firefighter. The papers tell the rest.

Tommy was always there to lend a helping hand to those in need. If you did something he didn’t agree with he wasn’t afraid to let you know‚ but he was still there to help you. He was a man of his word. If you told him something in confidence‚ that is where it stayed. He provided for his family and made us his number one priority. Our son was the center of his world. He loved being a father. He would lay on the couch with Nicholas across his chest and say‚’ it doesn’t get any better than this.’ He cherished every moment with his family.

The morning of July 4‚ 2002 changed our lives forever. Our worst nightmare had come true. Daddy didn’t come home. I thought that he was invincible‚ or so he made me believe. Firefighting was his job‚ saving lives and helping those in need was his job‚ but we never thought that giving his life would also be part of his job. He died a hero‚ but it doesn’t make it any easier. He would walk Nicholas down to feed the ducks every night after dinner – that was Daddy and Nicholas time. No one can fill void‚ not even Mommy. I’m thankful that our son is young and does not feel the impact that the rest of us feel‚ but in his own way I know that he is still wondering when Daddy is coming home‚ and that hurts the most.

I am proud of Tommy‚ not because he gave his life to save another‚ but because he made our lives complete. He didn’t need to be a hero‚ he was perfect just the way he was. I know that he wanted nothing more than to watch his son grow up‚ but someone else had a different plan for him. I along with Tommy’s parents and family thank everyone for honoring Tommy with the highest honors and for nominating along with John and Jim for this award.