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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Age: 59
Year of Death: 2015

Kenneth J. Lehr Sr.

My life partner was only 59 years old when God called him to rest on February 5, 2015. He joined the fire department in 1993. Kenny was a fire chief, EMT, and CPR instructor, as well as an ambulance driver and member of the fire district and ambulance board. He worked full-time at Olin Corp for 42 years before retiring in January 2015. He also worked two part-time jobs as a school bus driver and as an EMT at our local hospital. He was a very hard worker, but he still made time to volunteer for our community.

As a child, he spent all his free time at his grandpa’s farm. He started raising his own pigs and cows and picked apples and peaches for the local orchards. Even as a young man he knew of hard work and responsibility and cared deeply about family values and the community. When he did relax, he enjoyed watching documentaries of war history and western movies. He loved vegetable gardening.

We married after knowing each other for only six months and would have shared 40 wonderful years together the year of his death. We adopted our son after 12 years of marriage, and he has blessed us with three grandchildren. I remember many times as we sat down for a meal or laid down to sleep after a hard day, the radio would go off. Whether it was a fire, 1050, or EMS call, Kenny would jump up and go.

The year prior to his death, he had been working on purchasing a much needed brush truck for our rural area. He accomplished the goal, but unfortunately passed before its arrival. The department honored him by memorializing his name on the truck. I was so completely honored that complete strangers came to me and shared stories of how Kenny had touched their lives and knew him as a caring, giving individual. I hold comfort that he passed while doing what he enjoyed. His and other fire departments throughout Illinois and from other states honored him with such grace and fortitude. I can’t express how much it meant to me and to our family.

The words in this poem touch my heart so deeply. I want to share with others who have also felt the loss of a loved one.

God Has You

I thought of you with love today
But that is nothing new.
I thought about you yesterday
And days before that, too.
I think of you in silence,
I often speak your name.
All I have are memories
And your picture in a frame.
Your memory is my keepsake
With which I’ll never part.
God has you in his keeping,
I have you in my heart.
-Author unknown

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