Roll of Honor

John Van Dorn

John Van Dorn

  • Lieutenant
  • Clifton Fire Department
  • New Jersey
  • Age: 66
  • Year of Death: 2020

John was a loving father, a dedicated fireman, and a remarkable man. John joined the police force in 1977 and moved on over to the fire department in 1981. He spent almost three decades serving his city. He was named Fireman of the Year in 1994 and promoted to lieutenant in 1995. John served with honor until his retirement in 2009.

As a young father of four he worked many hours to provide for his family, never missing a single baseball or football game, even if he came with the engine. His love of sports and the New York Jets has been passed on to all his children.

Along with his heroic fire career, John started a successful landscaping business that endures as a family business to this day. His love of the outdoors defined his life, and winters meant skiing. Whether it was taking his family and their friends to Vermont or competing with his fellow firemen, John loved the slopes.

The summer was his favorite time of year, His love of the water came from his father. Boating was a must in the Van Dorn family. Once again, John would take his family and all their friends on his boat. “Lifelong memories are made on the water,” he always said, and he was right.

Brave is a word that is reserved for a certain few. John was not only brave for his actions on the fire department but for his bravery in fighting cancer. He showed us a strength we never knew existed and was a hero who fought until his last breath.

Every day his children—Kelly, Will, Ryan, and John Jr.—see someone whose life was made better by their father. The stories, memories, and tears are a welcome reminder of the great man he was. With all those memories, one thing always comes to mind. To steal a line from a movie that he watched 100 times, in the end, “I guess I just miss my friend.”

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Memorial Wall

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