Captain Richard “Brian” Wolnewitz, 44, passed away on August 16, 2022, following a courageous two-and-a-half-year battle with lung cancer.
Brian was born on February 16, 1978, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Shortly after, his family relocated back to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Brian was recruited from Suncoast High School to play football at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. Brian realized his true passion for helping others and pursued a career as a firefighter and paramedic. Brian graduated from Florida State Fire College in March 2001 and immediately began his career at Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue. Brian served his community for over 20 years, working tirelessly to achieve the ranks of fire medic, lieutenant, and captain.
Despite meeting in elementary school, Brian and Julie married in 2013, raising a beautiful family that includes his daughter Emma, their twins Presley and Cooper, and their youngest, Harper. Brian was frequently found working in the yard and his garage and proudly grilling his favorite meats. He followed in his father’s footsteps and was a dedicated, diehard Alabama Football fan.
When diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer on January 2, 2020, being the selfless man that he was, Brian made his top priorities clear. First was to get better and beat cancer. Second was to raise awareness about the countless risks firefighters face daily while in the line of duty, including the inherent risks associated with inhalation and absorption of toxins. Third was to raise funds so that other firefighters in his situation would have the resources available to fight their battles. Brian’s efforts have helped raise thousands of dollars for Firefighters to the Rescue, an organization that helps families of public servants during times of need.
Following his diagnosis, Brian participated in and contributed to several cancer research trials at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington. Brian hoped that one day, his participation in these trials would help change the lives of others with the development of lifesaving treatments.
Brian will forever be remembered as an exceptional leader within the fire service, training countless others in their careers as firefighters and paramedics. Brian’s softspoken and gentle tone commanded an audience, and everyone who knew Brian will agree that he was smart as a whip, loyal, kind, selfless, courageous, and truly one of a kind. Roll Tide, Roll Captain Wolnewitz; we’ll see you on the top floor.