Procession underway for fallen firefighter - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Saying goodbye to a hero: Patrick Wolterman

Patrick Wolterman, provided by the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters Patrick Wolterman, provided by the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters
(FOX19 NOW) (FOX19 NOW)
(Credit: Glenn Hartong) (Credit: Glenn Hartong)
Wolterman at his April swearing-in. (Provided by Hamilton FD) Wolterman at his April swearing-in. (Provided by Hamilton FD)
A photo of Wolterman sits next to his casket. A photo of Wolterman sits next to his casket.
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HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) -

The city of Hamilton's first firefighter to die in the line of duty in 44 years was given a heart-wrenching sendoff in a public memorial service Thursday.

Thousands turned out to honor Patrick Wolterman as a fire truck bearing his casket-draped coffin proceeded from a College Hill funeral home to Princeton Pike Church of God on Princeton Glendale Road.

The 28-year-old recently-married Roger Bacon High School graduate died Monday after falling through the floor of a burning Pater Avenue home.

In his homily, the Rev. George Jacquemin remembered Wolterman as a young man who shoveled driveways and grew up loving sports and his family.

The priest said most people run from danger, and we should give thanks to those who have the courage to run into it.

"He didn't even know who might be in the house, but he went in because he cared so much," the priest said. "Thanks to those who have the courage to run into danger and are willing to take the risk."

Hamilton Mayor Patrick Moeller said Wolterman was the type of person and hero we all want to have as a neighbor, friend and co-worker.

"In a world that can be very selfish, Patrick was selfless," the mayor said. "Patrick lived the last hours and minutes of his life protecting and serving the citizens of Hamilton, and the citizens are eternally grateful."

In his eulogy, Hamilton Fire Chief Steven Dawson remembered being impressed with Wolterman during his interview. He began working for Hamilton fire in April and worked previously for Colerain and Fairfield fire departments.

"He was a young man with intelligence, character and strong personal conviction," the chief said. "Patrick Wolterman was a good man. In the short time he was with us, he established a good reputation with his fellow firefighters and created many friendships and strong bonds. He became part of our family.

"In the early morning hours of Dec. 28, Firefighter Wolterman was called to duty and he answered bravely, without hesitation. Patrick responded to the home of a stranger, a home filled with thick black smoke and fire. He received reports of someone possibly trapped on the second floor and didn't pause.

"Along with a fellow firefighter," the chief continued, "Patrick breached the front door and entered the burning structure, never questioning that he was serving the citizens, that he was making a difference. Firefighter Wolterman performed that morning just as he performed since the date he was hired - with bravery and courage - and focused on helping others."

The chief retired Wolterman's fire badge #89 so no one will ever wear it again. He also presented the Meritorious Service Medal to his family.

In tearful remarks that closed out the service, Hamilton Fire Union President Brian Ruhl said Patrick was passionate about being involved in the community and fire union. He would wait for the perfect opportunity to throw in a zinger or one-liner, the perfect punchline to send his crew into gales of laughter.

Wolterman, the fire union leader said, knew what it meant to be a firefighter and went out of his way to help out around the firehouse by getting up early before the other guys to empty the dishwasher and start the coffee.

He said Wolterman found his soulmate in his wife, Bre, a teacher he just married in May. The couple has no children.

"Thank you, Bre, and Mr. and Mrs. Wolterman, for sharing Patrick with us," he said to the family. "The loss of Patrick to you, to his sister and brother, and to Bre's parents dwarfs the fire department loss."

Ruhl said his family gave him a book after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and he thought that day would be the biggest tragedy of his career.

He tearfully told the congregation that Monday is now the biggest tragedy.

"I lost a fellow Hamilton firefighter, a comrade, my brother."

He ended his remarks by presenting the IAFF Medal of Valor to Wolterman's wife.

Gov. John Kasich asked that state and U.S. flags be flown at half-mat from sunrise to sunset in Wolterman’s honor.

#HFDWolterman emerged on social media and is being used to pay tribute to the fallen firefighter.

Firefighters from several other agencies covered shifts for Hamilton fire crews so they could pay respects to their brother.

Donations for the family can be made to the Firefighter Wolterman Memorial Fund at First Financial Bank in Hamilton, Smith announced

This is the third Tri-State firefighter to die in the line of duty this year.

Cincinnati Firefighter Daryl Gordon, 54, died March 26 after falling down an elevator shaft while searching a Madisonville building. Gordon was the first Cincinnati Firefighter to die in the line of duty since 2003. 

Williamsburg Township Fire Lt. David Knapke died June 5 after suffering a major heart attack while battling a house fire on May 31. He was 56 and was with the department for more than 30 years.   

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