Wayne Copeland

Wayne  Copeland

Submitted by his daughter

My dad loved being with nature‚ in the woods. The time he spent in the woods was the time he felt close to God‚ our Creator. When you went into the woods with my dad‚ you would learn about nature. Everyone that knew my dad would call him if they needed help with something. He’d stop doing what he was doing at home and help that friend or family member.

Dad was a boy and girl scout leader for many years. After he was hired with the fire department‚ he’d continue to help the boy scouts in teaching them how to tie knots and camping.

I’m VERY PROUD of my dad. He touched so many people’s hearts and probably didn’t know half of them. They came to me at dad’s Celebration of Life saying‚ ‘We’ve never met‚ but your dad talked so much about you I feel like I know you.’ Just to let you know‚ we fed over 500 people that day. All of the people’s hearts‚ he touched in some way‚ will always be a treasure in their hearts.

Dad would always take me rock climbing‚ camping‚ fishing and a little bit of hunting. He taught me how to be independent and fix things. Now‚ he and God are teaching me things through my heart. My dad was the BEST!

Accomplishments: He climbed Mt. Ranier in 1981; became Fire Fighter II in 1983; Engineer in 1987 and Captain in 1989.

He was a member of the following: RMEF‚ NWTF‚ NRA and Ducks Unlimited.

Nathan O. Hamro

Nathan O. Hamro

Submitted by his wife

Nathan Hamro was a man who always had a kind word‚ a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. We lost Nate in a training accident on July 11‚ 2003.

Firefighting was Nate’s life. He was a salesman for a fire supply firm and was a volunteer firefighter with the Renner‚ South Dakota Fire Department. He had recently completed training in fighting forest fires. He was doing a demonstration of the use of airbags to several local volunteer fire departments when he was killed.

Life was going so well for Nate. He had recently celebrated his 50th birthday with a huge party with friends‚ family and co-workers. He had just purchased a bright‚ shiny red pickup truck (he said it was his very own fire truck!). He had just returned from vacationing in California and attending my family reunion. Nate loved his job and loved the fire department. He left this world truly at the top of his game.

Nate enjoyed fishing‚ hunting and woodworking. He was always busy with projects around the house. He built several things to assist me in running my day care from our home. He loved to cook and entertain friends with one joke after another—sometimes even repeating jokes several times during the evening and he would always laugh again at the joke.

Although Nate and I did not meet until he was 43‚ I knew that he was a very special man. He entered my life and the lives of my children‚ Jackie and Ryan and my grandson‚ Addison‚ with a passion. Life was never the same after I met Nate. We had been married for 7 years.

One of Nate’s co-workers wrote: ‘I really do miss Nate and his presence in the fire service will be sorely missed. Nate had a knack of leaving everyone he came in contact with in a better mood than he found them. I hope to take this trait and carry it forward in his honor’.

Although his life was tragically cut short‚ he lived exuberantly and fully. There is a void in everyone’s life that Nate touched.

In addition to his wife‚ Darla‚ and her family‚ Nate is survived by his mother‚ Ruth Hamro and his sister Karla and her family.

Nathan Hamro was a husband‚ son‚ brother‚ step-father‚ step-grandfather and above all else was a friend to everyone he met.

John Attardo

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Ralph Dawdy

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Randall Harmon

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Barry Michael Bennett

Barry Michael Bennett

Submitted by his wife

‘Don’t sweat the small stuff…’ Capt. Barry M. Bennett‚ 49‚ of the Cambridge Fire Department‚ lived by those words.

On the job‚ Barry was known for sizing up a situation‚ and making quick no-nonsense choices on the fire ground. Get in‚ get the job done (and done right)‚ and get out – safe. But Barry also liked a healthy dose of humor. Jokes were always welcome during his 18-plus years on the Rescue‚ Engines 1 and 2‚ or Ladder 1‚ and he enjoyed both dishing out and being the object of good-natured jesting. Anyone who ever worked with him knew he never let the risks of fire fighting cause too many moments of outward worry: At his ‘Celebration of Life‚’ life-long friend Capt. Stephen Leonard recounted how as a ‘newbie‚’ he once stood next to Barry under windows at an 8-alarm rowhouse fire; Steve fretted over how they were manning a hose in puddles a little too close to nearby electrical wires – he had already been zapped! – and yet Barry seemed unphased. Just then‚ an air conditioner flew down from several stories above‚ lightly brushing Barry’s shoulder and crashing at his feet. Barry looked at Steve with his devilish half-smirk and said‚ ‘See what I mean‚ Steve? Don’t sweat the small stuff!’ That was Barry – ‘almost’ only counted in hand grenades and nuclear war!

Barry was a very hard-working man. A Vietnam veteran‚ he obtained both associates and bachelors degrees from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. He joined the Cambridge Fire Department on March 17‚ 1985. For most of his career‚ Barry held a second job as an electronics engineer. He often balanced day shifts at United Electric against night shifts at Fire Headquarters‚ an exhausting pace. It wasn’t unusual for him to be away from home for two or three days at a time while he juggled his two jobs. But Barry did this gladly to provide a wonderful life for me and his three sons: Zack‚ Chris‚ and Andrew‚ whom he absolutely adored. His children were his greatest gift and greatest source of pride. When he was with his boys‚ Barry loved to take them on vacation to Vermont‚ on fishing trips‚ camping‚ movies‚ or just hang out with them at home. When he found a little extra time‚ he liked going out to the garage to tinker around with a 1976 Porsche he treasured (though it was in a million pieces.)

A family Christmas party was a ‘must.’ Each year‚ on the weekend before Christmas‚ we hosted many grandparents‚ aunts‚ uncles‚ cousins‚ neices and nephews at our home for an old fashioned family bash – and Barry took great pride choosing the menu and preparing a terrific buffet himself. He was quite a cook here at home and‚ while a confirmed vegetarian‚ he spent hours roasting and basting meats and game of all sorts‚ baking fine side dishes and desserts‚ and planning even the minutest details of his favorite holiday for his relatives.

Speaking of being a vegetarian… Barry took an awful lot of kidding about his other passion: bow hunting. Why‚ some of his sporting buddies teased‚ would a vegetarian/non-meateater sit for hours on end in a tree trying to take a deer? ‘Well‚’ he’d shrug with the famous Barry-grin‚ ‘because they’re my competition for the local food source.’

The truth is‚ the actual hunting part was an aside – Barry enjoyed spending long hours in the woods of Maine‚ New York‚ or his favorite area: the Quabbin Reservoir. Whether just walking for miles‚ bow and compass in hand‚ or simply watching deer graze at the foot of a tree where he’d sit for hours on end‚ Barry was most at home in the forest… far from the sirens of Engine 1 and the bustle of Harvard Square‚ away from the frenzy of crowds and the noise of the neighborhoods he served. And when he died‚ it was his favorite refuge at the Quabbin where Barry’s sons and a small group of childhood friends scattered his ashes‚ to become one with the forest again.

At the time of his death on Nov. 2‚ 2003‚ Barry‚ then Group 2 Lieutenant of Engine 1‚ was a candidate for promotion to Captain‚ having studied for‚ and passed‚ the state examination. Chief Gerald Reardon posthumously promoted Barry to the rank of Captain on Nov. 5‚ recognizing my husband’s valiant struggle against the ravages of his fatal injury‚ his time-tested leadership skills‚ and devotion to the Fire Department.

Barry would want all of us to forget the sadness of his fate‚ and embrace life as he did: with a good joke‚ unwavering hope‚ and perseverance in the face of any adversity or hardship. Save the worries‚ fears‚ and tears for the truly important moments – and make each new day count.

‘Don’t sweat the small stuff‚’ he’d remind us. Wise words from a good husband‚ father‚ friend‚ and a good Jake.

Godspeed‚ Barry Bennett. – From his wife‚ Janie.

Todd W. Dicks

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Shane W. Heath

Shane W. Heath

Submitted by his parents

Shane was raised on a 7‚500 acre row crop farm in Melba‚ Idaho. Shane spent his summers working on the farm where he grew to love the outdoors. He did it all – hunting‚ fishing‚ camping and riding ATV’s. He knew from a young age that he wanted to fly someday. The summer he was fifteen‚ he started working with the helicopter crew that did the farm’s agricultural spraying. He became hooked on helicopters from that summer on.

He attended Melba schools where he was involved in FFA and also the football and basketball programs. By high school basketball was his love; he graduated in 1998. He went on to continue his education at Boise State University for the next four years. He was hired as a wildland firefighter with the Sula Crew on the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana during the summer of 2000. He developed his skill at falling trees and became a ‘Class C’ sawyer early in his second season on the Sula Crew.

At the end of his second season‚ Shane had decided to apply for a spot on a helirappelling crew and was accepted on the Indianola Helitack Crew. He developed a great respect for fire and enjoyed the thrill of rappelling. By the end of his third season‚ Shane had decided to pursue a full-time firefighting career. Shane’s last call to duty was clearing a helispot on the Cramer Fire on the Salmon-Challis National Forest‚ where he and his partner‚ Jeff Allen‚ were overrun by flames.

Shane’s motto in life: ‘Do what you love – So you love what you do.’

Don J. Billig

Don J. Billig

Submitted by his wife‚ children‚ and grandchildren

Don Billig was the center of his family‚ his friends‚ his fire family‚ and his community. He died in the line of duty on October 27‚ 2003‚ while responding to a smoking generator call. He was killed by an alleged drunk driver while replacing a barricade in a construction zone.

Don was an 18+-year member of the St. Cloud Volunteer Division‚ he was Assistant Chief for the department at the time of his death. His dedication to the department was always priority. He rarely missed a call and he never missed a meeting of any kind.

He was a wonderful husband‚ a very caring and special dad‚ and a spectacular grandpa to his two grandkids whom he loved dearly.

He was a wonderful friend to many on the department‚ at the V.A. hospital where he worked for over 27 years‚ and to all he knew as friends.

He enjoyed trips to the Boundary Waters canoe area with many friends‚ his son‚ wife‚ and his two son-in-laws. He had annual fishing trips with his best friends every June. He loved boating and tubing with the family. He was always willing to try new things as well.

He enjoyed spending as much time with his family as he could whether it be watching a football game on Sunday‚ birthdays‚ holidays‚ or just visiting. He seldom missed a day where he didn’t call to check and see how his grandkids were. When he saw the grandkids his whole face would light up. His love for everyone was so deep. He was always there to lend a helping hand to whoever needed it.

He was devoted to his wife of 22 years‚ Lou Ann‚ his children Jenny‚ husband Darrell‚ and grandkids Miranda and Tyler. Daughter Heather‚ her husband Mike‚ and baby on the way. Son‚ Brandon and girlfriend Kim.

He also leaves behind his mother Irene‚ brother Dave‚ sisters Lawrene and Margo‚ along with all of their spouses and children. He has reunited in heaven with his dad Larry who died in november of 1994 whom he missed dearly.

We will never forget about him‚ he touched so many lives and he will always be in our hearts.

Wayne Dillon

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