WORCESTER (CBS) – Thousands of firefighters paid their final respects to fallen Worcester Fire Lt. Jason Menard at his funeral Monday morning. Menard died Wednesday while saving his crew from a burning home. He was just 39 years old. He leaves behind a wife and three children.
Funeral services were at St. John’s Catholic Church on Temple Street in Worcester. A private burial took place at St. John’s Cemetery on Cambridge Street.
“After marrying Tina, becoming a father three times, his next best day was becoming a lieutenant,” said Fr. Walter Riley at the funeral.
“The sacrifice of Lt. Jason Menard fully answers the question can anything good come from Worcester. Not only is the answer to this question, yes, but his life and his saving actions for fellow firefighters, it takes that yes to its highest form. Because in the words of the good teacher from Nazareth, there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” Riley said.
Menard’s death marked the 10th time a firefighter has died in the line of duty since 1999. Last year, the Worcester Fire Department lost firefighter Christopher Roy in a five-alarm fire at a home on Lowell Street.
Riley said, “I must confess that in the privacy of prayer, I was sitting with Jason the other morning in a trauma room, I asked God to bring his spirit back. I just didn’t want to do this again. I don’t want a family going through that…In the mystery of His great plan, God wanted something good from Worcester and he got it. He welcomed the best, the one who laid down his life for his friends.”
Daniel Pace also spoke at the funeral with a message on behalf of Christopher Pace, the firefighter saved by Menard’s actions last Wednesday.
He said, “There are really no fitting words for a situation like this. How can you ever thank a person and family enough for their sacrifice? We are still waiting to wake up from this nightmare and continue on with our lives but unfortunately, the events that occurred are beyond our control and we are here today honoring the bravest, and most selfless man, I’ve ever had the chance to meet. Jay is the definition of a hero: honorable, a man of integrity. He took his oath as a firefighter seriously, which makes him not only Chris’s hero, but he is my hero, my family’s, your family’s, and all of our community’s. His actions are the reason my only brother is still here today and because of that, we are forever indebted to the entire Menard family.”
Lt. John Dwyer gave the eulogy. “Let’s talk a little bit about Jay…This is a guy that loved Disney, Wells Beach Maine, Christmas music, but above all else, just loved being with his family and his close friends. Jay is a guy who always had a smile on his face and a natural ability to make everyone feel special. He rarely, if ever, missed an event for the kids, from basketball through dance recitals to school-related events. Jay was there and happy to be there, really nowhere else he’d rather be,” he said.
“To a man, they also said, if there was a firefighter discount out there, Jay knew where it was. Jay was a huge NFL football fan, New England Patriots of course. A fantasy football league commissioner, a post he reportedly ruled with an iron fist,” Dwyer said on a light-hearted note.
- Photo Gallery: Worcester Fire Lt. Jason Menard Honored With Final Farewell
Retired Waltham Fire Lt. Bill MacDonald was among the firefighters who stood outside the church ahead of the Mass. “Since the Worcester six I’ve been coming to every one of them, it’s comradery. You know this guy was hero, he saved two lives and unfortunately lost his own. They were going up to save a baby and mother and that’s what we do,” he said.
A memorial fund has been set up for Menard’s family. Donations can be made through the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts website.
Checks made payable to “PFFM Foundation c/o The Menard Children’s Fund” can also be mailed to:
Worcester Fire Department Credit Union
34 Glennie St.
Worcester, MA 01605