A procession of hundreds of members of the Worcester Fire Department made its way to St. John’s Church Saturday for the funeral of firefighter Christopher Roy, 36, where they were joined by thousands of others firefighters from near and far who came to pay their respects to the fallen hero.
Roy's death was a devastating loss to the community and hearts were heavy Saturday as everyone stood in solidarity with the city of Worcester as they said a final goodbye to the man who was a father, firefighter, friend, son and so much more.
Firefighter Roy’s casket was escorted to the church on Fire Engine 5 from Worcester’s Webster Square fire station where Roy was assigned. It was the same truck he was riding in Sunday when he went to the Lowell Street blaze where he died.
Inside St. John's Church, Roy’s Ladder 4 firefighter hat was placed on top of his casket and his 9-year-old-daughter Ava and his parents were among the many in the pews. Much of the church was filled with members of the Worcester Fire Department, as well as loved ones and dignitaries including Gov. Charlie Baker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Three firefighters who worked with Roy, a two-and-a-half-year veteran, said he was not just a friend to them and their families, but also a brother.
Firefighter David Scavone told Ava that she was her father's world and that he moved heaven and earth to give her the best life possible.
"He was so proud of you," Scavone said.
Many have taken comfort in the example Roy set for all everyone by being a great father, firefighter and friend.
"We should all consider ourselves blessed to have gotten to know Roy and bringing him joy throughout his life as he did to ours."
The service for Roy was an emotional, deeply religious and spiritual Catholic Mass. His eulogy was read by several of his Worcester Fire colleagues and friends who served as his pal bearers.
"He could move mountains with a smile," firefighter Sean Sullivan said. "A permanent hole is in all of our hearts now but we can move forward knowing Roy is forever a part of us."
Firefighter Stephen McGurn described Roy as selfless, someone who cared about everyone around him.
"Biggest guy who was always first to step up," McGurn said.
Rev. Walter Riley, the Worcester Fire Department's chaplain, spoke at the funeral service, telling mourners that Roy was someone whose home was filled with happiness.
"He was a guy who was the rock of his family,'' said Riley, adding how Roy was "a guy who wanted to perform his job so badly, and did all he needed to do in a stellar way to get on the fire department.''
All Worcester firefighters were able to attend Roy's funeral. Twenty-five towns and 80 firefighters took over calls for the Worcester Fire Department to allow Worcester firefighters to focus on grieving.
Following an initial funeral procession through Worcester, the funeral began shortly before 10 a.m.
Following funeral services, there was another procession that made three stops at Worcester fire stations on Southbridge Street, Park Avenue and Webster Square.
On Friday, thousands of firefighters from across the state came to salute Roy at his wake during a private viewing.
Roy died after battling a 5-alarm fire at an apartment building on Lowell Street Sunday morning when he and another firefighter became trapped on the second floor of the burning building while searching for residents in the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 9. He was rescued by fellow fighters but later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Shrewsbury resident was a single father who leaves behind his 9-year-old daughter Ava and other family members. A fund to benefit his daughter has been set up through the Worcester Fire Department Credit Union.
His death had come days after Worcester marked 19 years since six city firefighters were killed battling a warehouse fire on Dec. 3, 1999. Another Worcester firefighter died in the line of duty on Dec. 8, 2011.
"This is a difficult day for the Worcester Fire Department and particularly painful as this is the week we remember and mourn the passing of Worcester firefighter Jon Davies and the six who perished in the Cold Storage Warehouse fire,'' Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie said during a Dec. 9 news conference at fire headquarters.