** Click here to watch a recording of the ceremony on Facebook, courtesy of Cleveland Fire Department.
CLEVELAND (WJW) — Johnny Tetrick’s loved ones, his fellow firefighters and members of the public said goodbye to the beloved father and tireless public servant on Saturday.
The Kirtland man, a 27-year Cleveland Fire Department veteran, was killed last week by a hit-and-run driver while assisting at the scene of a rollover crash along Interstate 90. He was 51. The public was invited to Tetrick’s funeral service Saturday, Nov. 26, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
“My dad lived his life to serve. He was a wonderful firefighter, a wonderful man … but mostly, he was a wonderful dad,” his daughter Eden said Saturday.
Daughter Falon remembered though her father would often come home with hands that were calloused, cracked and bleeding, he still made time to cuddle with his girls before bed.
She only saw him cry twice, she said. The second time was at her graduation. The first was after responding to a tragic fire from which he personally carried out the bodies of several children who had died. He held his daughters tighter that night, she said. Later, he refused to accept an award for his heroism — “like many others,” she said.
“Jesus will be there the moment you die. You’ll meet the lord of all creation. … You’ll be in paradise,” Johnny Tetrick wrote in his Bible. “And I know that’s what he felt.”
On many mornings, the three daughters often found the proud Christian reading his Bible over a cup of coffee. He would make his own notes on passages, and had left an unfinished journal of notes for his daughters, in the event of his death, Eden said.
“We often wish we could escape troubles — the pain of grief, sorry, loss and failure; even the small daily frustrations that constantly wear us down,” he wrote. “God promises to be close to the broken-hearted.
“For the rest of my life, there will be a piece missing. My father will never get to walk me down the aisle or meet my children,” Eden continued, fighting tears. “But that’s OK, because he’s with God today, and he’s happier than he ever could be here.”
Daughter Regan said her father taught her everything — “except how to live without him.”
“My dad was everything good in this world,” she said Saturday. “He was strong yet gentle, carried himself with confidence but also humility. He had unparalleled loyalty, unwavering faith and unconditional love.
“He was the man you went to when you needed your oil changed, but he was also the man you went to when you needed your heart changed.”
Johnny Tetrick was “the beating heart” of his family, as well as his family at Cleveland Fire Station No. 22, which he joined in 1998 and where he served most of his 27 years on the force, said Mayor Justin Bibb.
“But being a firefighter wasn’t just his job. It was his life, his legacy and his home away from home,” he said. “Firefighter Tetrick put on the uniform and showed up day in and day out to serve the residents of Cleveland, Ohio.”
One by one, fellow firefighters took the podium Saturday to share stories about their beloved brother, painting him as a generous mentor, a mischievous prankster, a rock-solid companion and an exemplary professional.
** Watch footage from his funeral procession in the player below:
Though some firefighters’ personnel records read like “poorly written novels” and are just as thick, Tetrick’s was as thin as a magazine, but filled with awards, commendations and other records of his courageous deeds over the years, said Cleveland Fire Chief Anthony Luke.
“What do we do with the gaping hole where Johnny once was in the lives of his family, his loved ones and his fellow firefighters?” he asked, before calling on past and present fire division members to stand for his family.
“Whether it’s a leaky faucet, a broken-down vehicle or a shoulder to cry on, the Cleveland Division of Fire will be there for you,” Luke said.
Fire officials on Saturday presented the family with a medal of honor and an official proclamation recognizing his service. Tetrick’s name will also be added to the International Association of Firefighter’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial wall at its Colorado headquarters, union officials said.
** Watch prior coverage of Johnny Tetrick’s calling hours on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in the player below:
Condolences can be left online on the funeral home’s website.
The driver of the vehicle that struck Tetrick, who investigators said was 40-year-old Leander Bissell of Cleveland, has been charged.
Bissell shouldn’t be walking free, Eden said to reporters earlier this week — but he’s still deserving of forgiveness.
“My dad was everything to all three of us. We talked all the time. We told him everything. He was our support system — 100%,” she said. “[Bissell] is a human being. He still has the value of being a human being. Just because he did a bad thing does not mean we hate him or that he should feel guilty or horrible for the rest of his life.
“He still deserves respect just like everybody else does.”
Regan called her father’s death “a tremendous loss.” But she said he would want them to forgive Bissell, “because we were once forgiven by God.”