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Worcester Firefighter Chris Roy’s funeral was today at St. John’s Church on Temple Street, and it was one of the harder funerals you’ll ever see. You can watch the whole thing below on the Boston 25 News live feed. But what I took from it was the look of sadness you saw from firefighters from all over who attended. Most of them did not know Chris, but I’m sure an event like this can’t help but make them think, “What if this was my funeral? What if that was my daughter left behind?” Because the guy got a call for a fire, just like firefighters routinely do every day, and minutes later the lives of his friends and family were forever altered. Just like that. No goodbye or anything. It could’ve been any firefighter at that funeral. But none of them will quit their job over this. All of them will show up at work on their next shift. Someone had to man the Webster Square firehouse during the funeral. There will be more fires next week and someone will have to put them out.
His poor daughter Ava held up amazingly during the three hour ordeal. She’s old enough to understand the reality of death, and her composure under the circumstances was inspiring. She won’t have Daddy to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. He won’t be there for other milestone events in her life, and she’ll wish he was. She doesn’t have a custodial mother to fall back on at this time for support, but she does have loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the entire firefighting community. I’m sure a lot of people lost it right when the two men came to her in the front pew, knelt down, and presented her with the box that she held as her father was taken out of the church. She’s in my prayers, but it’s comforting to know she will be cared for.
The eulogy delivered by his three fellow firefighters and friends was especially touching. I went to high school with Weaver McGurn. He was always the crazy one, the kind of guy who would sign up to run into a fire to save other people. He was always extremely loyal to his friends. I met Sean Sullivan as an adult, and he’s one of the friendliest, down to earth people I’ve ever met, and he’d known Chris since childhood. Those of you who know Sean and obstacles he’s overcome in life know how remarkable it is for Sean to be up there in the first place. I didn’t know Dave Scavone, who bravely stood there and held Chris’ hat during the procession out of the church, but I know of him. Worcester is a really small community when you get down to it, as the priest mentioned in his sermon. It could’ve been any of them, but they’ll all keep going to work every day.
I wanted to keep this blog sentimental and positive, but there was one aspect of that funeral that pissed me off and I can’t help but comment on it. I understand it’s standard to have politicians show up at events like this, and I do appreciate them doing so. However, I was enraged when I saw Charlie Baker shake the hand of Chris Roy’s parents, and then walk right by his daughter like she was nothing.
This was him walking right past her, not even looking at her in the eye.
He was well aware that she was there and he couldn’t even be bothered to comfort her. I will never, ever forget that. Even though I don’t care for a lot of these politicians, Karyn Polito, Elizabeth Warren, Jim McGovern, Ed Markey, and Joe Petty all stopped to offer Ava their condolences.
They showed genuine emotion. And for that I can appreciate their humanity.
One thing that can’t be overlooked is that Chris Roy, John Davies, and the Worcester 6 all died while trying to save the lives of the most downtrodden. There were 21 kids who lived in the Lowell Street building, all of who survived. John Davies died in the terrible Vernon Hill kindlebox known as Arlington Street. The Worcester 6 were looking for two junkies who carelessly started a fire and told no one about it, prompting the search for them. It would be a lot easier to swallow if they died saving the little old lady whose stove caught on fire. There’s no doubt in my mind that this could’ve been avoided. But this is what they sign up to do – risk their lives for every citizen regardless of race, ethnicity, social standing, or ratchet status.
For that we will forever be thankful for the contributions of all firefighters, but especially for the deceased.
RIP Chris Roy.