During a memorial on Saturday, the community remembered John Cassidy as a passionate, thoughtful and devoted fire chief whose love for Colwood was second only to his family.
Cassidy, who died on June 23, had been part of the West Shore department since 1999 and served as fire chief from 2017 until his death.
A procession of firefighters and other first responders from across B.C. marched down to the lower fields of West Shore Parks and Recreation before speakers honoured Cassidy.
Greg Chow, Colwood’s acting fire chief, said Cassidy was known for his dedication, compassion and for educating the community about fire prevention.
“Through his guidance and mentorship, members of our department will continue to thrive,” he said. “We are all better for having known John Cassidy.”
View Royal’s Fire Chief Paul Hurst said the community lost a hero in Cassidy. He said the fire chief exemplified integrity and was firm and not easily swayed in his positions, but always open to others’ perspectives.
“He always put family first, Colwood next, himself last.”
Hurst recalled how Cassidy would call him every day, asking him where he was – even though he knew Cassidy was keeping tabs on his exact location through the firetruck GPS tracking system.
“I’m going to miss those calls. My daily phone call always started with ‘Brother Paul, what’s up,’” Hurst said.
“I’m exhausted by the passing of John, I am broken and sad. I’m not quite finished crying over this incredible loss.”
He closed by remembering his last call with Cassidy, just 15 minutes before the chief’s death.
“I ended that phone call by telling John I will see you tomorrow, I love you. He replied ‘I love you too brother Paul.’ I get to keep that in my heart until the day I die.”
The last speakers were Cassidy’s wife and two kids. They remembered him as someone who cared fiercely, and whose humour and goofy antics always lit up their day.
Lauren, Cassidy’s daughter, said her father would listen to anyone who needed it.
“He would always ask how you were doing and he’s one of the few people who I think really genuinely wanted to know,” Lauren said. “He always wanted to help people, to be there when they needed it most.”
His son, Ryan, will miss the kindness and optimism that filled the many little talks they shared every day.
“My father was brave, strong and fearless,” Ryan said, adding his father always lived up to be the person and firefighter he bragged about.
Cassidy’s wife Monique said Cassidy loved Colwood and was so proud to be its fire chief.
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