Dennis E. Rodeman

Dennis E. Rodeman

Firefighter Dennis E. Rodeman, age 35, of the Lansing Fire Department, died on September 9, 2015, after he was struck by a passing motorist while participating in a fundraising campaign.

Charles C. Adams Jr.

Charles C. Adams Jr.

Firefighter Trainee Charles C. Adams Jr., age 48, of the Spring Arbor Township Fire Department, died on January 2, 2016, after he collapsed and momentarily lost consciousness while participating in search and rescue training.

Fred A. Newton Sr.

Fred A. Newton Sr.

Captain Fred A. Newton Sr., age 66, of the Somerset Township Fire Department and EMS, died on December 27, 2016, after he was found unresponsive in his car by station personnel shortly after completing his shift.

Alan J. Swartz

Alan J. Swartz

Firefighter James F. Shelifoe Jr., age 23, and Firefighter Alan J. Swartz, age 25, of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, died on August 27, 2016, from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident that occurred enroute to assist with wildfires.

Richard L. Crosby Sr.

Richard L. Crosby Sr.

Firefighter Richard L. Crosby Sr., age 67, of the Casnovia Township Fire Department suffered a heart attack after he responded to an EMS call and died on September 26, 2015.

William “Will” Wiita

William R. Wiita

William Russell Wiita died in the line of duty on September 8, 2014. He suffered a heart attack a few hours after a rescue call.

Will joined Coldsprings-Excelsior Fire and Rescue in 2001 and was a pillar in the department and community for the last thirteen years. He served in that time as a firefighter, EMT, lieutenant, medical officer and, most recently, assistant chief. As a co-founder of the Explorers program, he helped kids in the community get involved in the fire service.

One of the most diversely talented members of Station Six, Will could be relied on for any job, and he excelled at everything he did. He had a wealth of knowledge which he put to use on scene as a fire officer and EMT, and behind the scenes as “Mr. Fix-It” around the station. The most daunting situations were, in Will’s words, “No Biggie,” yet the most mundane tasks received his full care and attention. From parades and fundraising breakfasts to medical scenes, house fires and auto accidents, Will was there, day or night, selflessly serving the department and the community in whatever way he was needed. His superiors and those he supervised came to depend on his guidance, experience, outside-the-box thinking, and can-do outlook.

On scene and off, Will was always looking out for the people around him. Will is not known for any single defining event or act; rather, he is best remembered in the community for his calm presence and steadfast reliability in every situation. He will be sorely missed by all of us, but he will continue to serve as an inspiration to us as we serve our community.

This sentiment is shared wholeheartedly by his family. Will was born and raised in northern Minnesota and grew up loving hunting, fishing, and practical jokes. At age 20, he moved to Dearborn, Michigan, to begin work at Double Eagle Steel and then later decided to leave his job and move to Kalkaska, allowing him to spend more time doing what he loved.

Throughout his life in Michigan, he made regular trips back to Minnesota for family occasions, the annual Boundary Waters fishing trip, and hunting season. His family loved his visits and would share the news, “Willie’s coming home!” and would line up “Willie jobs” for him to do. He also enjoyed traveling around the country and overseas to visit family and friends, seeing new sights, and trying new foods. Will lived life to the full.

Both his ‘families’ in Minnesota and Michigan miss him dearly and have taken comfort in sharing fond memories and their favorite stories about him.

Jamie Angelo Peite

Jamie Angelo Peite

Jamie Angelo Peite was born on October 3, 1970, 13 ½ minutes before his twin brother. At 8 pounds 3 ounces, he was the bigger twin. Jamie had red hair and beautiful brown eyes. In death, he donated his eyes so someone else could see.

His childhood was spent on a 40-acre farm learning to care for animals, helping repair things, making firewood, and playtime. Jamie also had three sisters. They were all so close in age, as all five children were born over a five year span. The bond they formed was strong, and everyone always watched out for each other.

Jamie graduated from high school in Ironwood, Michigan, and went to Dunwoody Institute in Minnesota with his brother. Jamie became an expert body man and worked at that profession for 22 years. It wasn’t his dream, though, and he realized that the chemicals on the job were affecting his health. He quit and went back to college to become a psychologist. He graduated junior college with highest honors and went on to finish at UW-Superior, but died before he accomplished his dream. With his sense of humor, he would have been a very good psychologist, and his empathy for humanity would have served him well.

Jamie had nothing except his daughter during college and worked part-time jobs to support her, but if someone needed something, no matter what, he did his best to help.

Jamie joined the Ironwood Township Volunteer Fire Department and became chief. He worked tirelessly, getting grants, donations, and doing fundraisers to get the equipment and vehicles they needed.

Jamie was an avid reader. He especially liked books about ancient sorcerers and dragons. His collection is mine now, and in my lifetime I could never read them all.

Jamie was a kind soul. As his mother, he never failed to help me, especially after his father became disabled. His gift of sharing was tremendous. We never realized until his death just how many people’s lives he touched.

Jamie had a son who he didn’t know was his until shortly before he passed away. He wished to be part of his life, but never got the chance. Nevertheless, he was in Jamie’s heart. Given a chance, he would have been a great father to him, as he was to the daughter he raised.

Jamie’s jokes and laughter and his deep singing voice follow on at family gatherings. We reminisce and laugh over things he said or did. God took a great man who is terribly missed by his family and will never be forgotten. There is solace knowing he is soaring with the angels.

See you again someday, Jamie. Love ya! Mom

Brian A. Woehlke

Brian A. Woehlke

Brian A. Woehlke was born July 27, 1983, in Detroit, Michigan, to parents William and Eliza-beth. He grew up having a special bond with his grandfather, who was a firefighter in his hometown, and always strived to follow in his footsteps since childhood.

Brian excelled athletically from a young age. He was able to share his love of soccer with his three older brothers and spent many of those precious family moments with his father who coached him. Brian loved being around friends and family. In his spare time he enjoyed golfing and looked forward to University of Michigan football games. With his signature “Woehlke Smile” and most original dance moves, it was hard not to fall in love with the person he grew to be.

In 2002, Brian met his wife, Jennifer. There was no happier moment for the two than in 2012 when their beautiful daughter, Ava, was born. Brian loved nothing more in this world than his family and his faith. There wasn’t a day at work where one of the guys didn’t hear about one of baby Ava’s milestones. Brian was a sincerely proud father and husband. Ava and Jennifer were truly the drive and support behind Brian’s being.

Brian worked hard to achieve his dream of becoming a husband, father and a fireman. In 2012, he was hired with the Wayne-Westland Fire Department. Brian served as a firefighter and by be-ing the positive catalyst that assisted in merging the two fire departments. It was apparent that Brian loved firefighting and always mentioned how he loved the “human element” of being a paramedic. His personality was bigger than life and left a memorable impact on everyone he came in contact with. His last call was May 8, 2013, while courageously battling a strip mall fire.

His pride and memory live on through his family and friends.

Nathaniel C. Fruin

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.

John D. Grabowski

John D. Grabowski

John Daniel Grabowski was born on January 28‚ 1963‚ in Wyandotte‚ Michigan‚ to Anthony and Patricia Grabowski. John was the sixth of eight children that made up the Grabowski family. He grew up working for the family business‚ a popular ‘mom and pop’ hardware store that was known for its friendly service and laid back atmosphere. Twenty years later‚ people would still recognize John from his days at the hardware.

In 1988‚ John decided to take a new turn towards a career and was hired by the city of Riverview‚ Michigan‚ as a firefighter. During his time with the department‚ he worked hard and was dedicated to his community. He climbed the ranks‚ completing numerous trainings and earning many awards‚ eventually earning the rank of lieutenant and becoming an EMT-Specialist. He was involved in firefighter charities such as the annual Bowl for Burns‚ which raises money for the University of Michigan Burn Center. At 24 years of service‚ John became the president of his union‚ Riverview Firefighters AFSCME Local 3667.

John was not only involved in the firefighting community‚ but also held a job at a local chemical plant‚ BASF Corporation‚ where he ‘climbed the ladder‚’ earning the title of technician trainer. He was part of BASF’s emergency response team‚ using his skills as an EMT to respond to emergency situations on the large property.

Outside of his firefighting services and the chemical plant‚ John enjoyed traveling to the family vacation home in ‘Up North’ Michigan where he would fish and ride his jet ski. He was well known around a large community for his outgoing and friendly personality. There was not a person that crossed his path that did not like John Grabowski. He made friends everywhere he went and considered his co-workers family‚ and his fellow firefighters‚ brothers.

John was 49 years old. He is survived by two daughters and a stepson‚ but was preceded in death by his wife‚ Angela Hicks-Grabowski‚ who lost her battle with cancer. Everyone will forever remember his positive outlook on life‚ as well as his ability to light up a room with his charismatic smile and the sound of his laughter.