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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Age: 22
Year of Death: 2013

Nathaniel C. Fruin

Nathaniel was born February 10, 1991, in Kalamazoo Michigan, the second of three children, and was raised on his parents’ grape farm in Mattawan, Michigan. Nathan had a thirst for life like no one else. He never let grass grow under his feet; he was always moving forward to experience everything life had to offer. Growing up, Nathan never had a moment’s trouble making friends. He introduced himself to everyone and asked if they’d like to be his friend. Nathan was the comedian of his family, always making everyone laugh and smile.

Nathan graduated from Mattawan High School in May 2009. He received his firefighter certification shortly after graduation and became a volunteer firefighter with the Mattawan Fire Department. While exploring his options for a lifetime career, he worked as a logistics coordinator and social media director for a local trucking company. He was in the process of rebuilding his employer’s website and updating their training videos and photography for their marketing department.

Nathan’s love for computers and photography was evident; he always had a camera and video camera close at hand. He was setting up a helmet video camera system for the fire department to use for training videos and had set up the computer system in all of the department’s fire trucks. Nathan was teaching a local businessman the finer points of editing film for his murder mystery cruises. He was always assisting a friend or family member in computer and smart phone repair.

Nathan was very involved in the technical program at the local high school, assisting with various theatre and musical productions. He had just completed his first year as technical director for the high school’s musical production at the time of his death. Naturally drawn to music and the fine arts, he played trombone in middle and high school and taught himself to play saxophone, oboe, and piano. He was never too far from his guitar; during rare free moments, he would take out his guitar to bring his music alive.

Nathan was very well known and respected by his community and his peers. He had a difficult time telling someone no and was on the go constantly helping others through firefighting, teaching, working, or playing. He moved from one project to another with very little time for himself. His giving was unselfish and with love.

He leaves behind his loving parents, Charles and Linda; his two best friends, sister Sarah and brother Alex; and his adoring grandparents, Lucinda Barnes-Boven, James (JoAnne) Boven, and
Phyllis Fruin. He is also survived by his uncles, Mark (Penny) Boven and David (Kim) Fruin, and his close cousins, Christopher (Grace) Fruin, Grace Boven, and Jacob Boven.

Nathan’s loss to his family, friends, and community continues to be felt by all.

Memorial Posts


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  1. Nathan will be in our hearts forever. His untimely death was a shock to the whole community. He will always be remembered as an outstanding friend and a great companion to everyone that he came in contact with. I was honored to be able to work and train beside him. Nathan will never be forgotten and will always be remembered in our hearts.

    – Thomas Wortman
  2. I remember attending the Van Buren County fire academy with Nate and because of him, we shared many laughs as a group, he was just a great guy to have around! He is deeply missed.

    – Brody Woodard