Submitted by his wife and sons
Kenneth A. (Kenny) Woitalewicz‚ 38 years old‚ was a Captain with the Wood River Fire and Rescue Department in Wood River‚ NE. In the early morning hours of February 14‚ 2004‚ Kenny and fellow fire fighter Bobby Heminger responded to a house fire where an elderly lady was trapped inside. Both men entered the home in hopes to rescue the individual when a portion of the roof collapsed on them‚ trapping them inside. Captain Bobby Heminger died the next day from his injuries and Captain Kenny Woitalewicz succumbed to his injuries two day later.
Captain Kenny Woitalewicz began his service with the Wood River Fire and Rescue in 1992. After extensive training‚ Kenny quickly found his calling as an aggressive fire fighter. Kenny was honored as the department’s ‘Fire Fighter of the Year’ in 1996. The fire chief also cited him for his bravery in a heroic rescue effort during an agricultural confined space incident. Kenny was a skilled automotive rescue technician who prided himself in developing new techniques for crash rescue and also applied his skills at metal work to the design and construction of numerous tools‚ hose appliances and storage devices for the departments use. During his career‚ he served with tremendous dedication as a lieutenant and engineer before being appointed to the position of Captain. His bravery and courage were demonstrated on several occasions.
Kenny was a dedicated fireman who truly loved all of the fire department activities. He was a master craftsman and liked building projects with steel in his shop and was known for building utility trailers of all kinds. He was known throughout the community for his radiating smile and the often heard honk of his pickup horn as he waved and drove by. Kenny was known as a practical joker that left many smiles on the faces of his Wood River friends. He had no greater love then that of his family. He was a dedicated father and husband and always found time for his wife and sons even during his busy schedule.
Kenny and I were married June 30‚ 1990. We both loved the idea of living in the small town of Wood River. We were looking forward to having kids and raising them here. We became involved with the fire department to help serve the community. We were blessed with our son Matthew in April of 1994 and he is so much like his daddy. He’s caring‚ compassionate‚ willing to lend a hand to help anyone‚ and the fixer of all things. In June of 1999 we were blessed with our son Ryan who is also so much like his daddy only he is the part of Kenny where the little jokes‚ pranks‚ orneriness and smiles will make you laugh till your sides ached. So instead of having Kenny here with us‚ I now have him in two little boys that will remain my pride‚ joy and focus forever.
Kenny had a heart of gold and would give the shirt off his back to help anyone. He always knew just what to do to make people smile and he loved the fire department and the families of those involved with the department just as much.
He was a dedicated father and husband‚ wonderful son‚ brother and friend and will be missed by all who knew and loved him. We will treasure the ‘I love you’ we received from him on the morning of February 14‚ 2004 as I share that with the two angels he leaves behind. This has made a stronger person out of the boys and I and even though he may be gone from our lives‚ he still holds a special place in our hearts and he’ll never be forgotten.
Kenny was always our ‘hero’ and now he’s everyone’s hero.
Melissa‚ Matthew and Ryan Woitalewicz