A community memorial service was held for the fallen first responders on April 25 at Baylor University’s Ferrell Center attended by more than 9,000 family members, friends, residents and firefighters from around the U.S. President Barack Obama was among those who paid tribute to the victims of the deadly April 17 fertilizer plant explosion.
Morris Bridges, Jr., of West, First Responder
A service was held Friday May 3 at the Church of the Assumption in West for Morris Wayne Bridges, Jr., 41, and burial followed at Bold Springs Cemetery near West. Bridges had been a volunteer firefighter in West for three years. His wife, Carmen, said he paused before leaving to battle the April 17 fire to tell his infant son he loved him and that he would be right back. “He never came back,” she said. Bridges grew up in Dallas, loved to ride motorcycles and to fish and camp.
Perry Calvin of Frost, First Responder
Services were Thursday May 2 for Perry Calvin, 37, of Frost at Central Baptist Church in Hillsboro. Burial followed at Frost Cemetery. He was a Dallas native and a graduate of Frost High School who was attending the Fire Academy and Emergency Medical Technician at Hill College. He was a farmer who enjoyed the outdoors, horseback riding, rodeos and fishing. He was a member of both the Navarro Mills and Mertens Volunteer Fire Departments. His father, Phil Calvin, said Perry, a husband and father of two boys ages 9 and 2, was looking forward to the new baby his wife will have around Thanksgiving.
Jerry Dane Chapman of Hillsboro, First Responder
A private family memorial service was planned for Jerry Dane Chapman, 26, of Hillsboro. Chapman was a Pampa native who was attending an EMT training class on April 17 in West when the fire broke out at the fertilizer plant. He was a member of the Abbott Volunteer Fire Department and was working to become an emergency medical technician. He worked at the Black-Eyed Pea restaurant in Hillsboro for six years, loved Batman, Star Wars, Tolkien and video games.
Cody Dragoo of West, First Responder
A burial Mass was Wednesday May 1 for Cody Dragoo, 50, of West at the Church of The Assumption. Burial followed at St. Mary’s Cemetery. A native of Billings, Mont., Dragoo was a Montana State University graduate who was employed at the West Fertilizer Co. for a number of years. He was a member of the West Volunteer Fire Department who enjoyed hunting, cooking and watching NASCAR.
Dallas Fire-Rescue Capt. Kenneth “Luckey” Harris, Jr. of West, First Responder
Services were held on Wednesday April 24 at the Church of the Assumption in West for Dallas Fire-Rescue Capt. Kenneth “Luckey” Harris, Jr., 52, who was among the first responders killed in the explosion on April 17 at West Fertilizer Co. Harris was a married father of three grown sons who lived in West and was lending a hand to volunteer firefighters at the fertilizer plant. He was born in Killeen, graduated from Crawford High School, attended McLennan Community College in Waco and graduated from the Dallas Fire Academy in 1982. Retired Dallas Fire Department Chaplain Denny Burris told mourners during the April 24 service that Harris will never be forgotten. “We aren’t happy,” he said, “but we can be joyful for those who knew Luckey and his spirit.”
"He was willing to lay down his life for a friend,” he said.
“He had a calling, deeper than most people understand,” he said.
“He loved it, he lived it, he invested more into it than he got out of it, that's why he was so good,” he said.
"Captain Harris' response is typical of all our first responders; night and day, no matter where they are, no matter if they are on or off duty they respond with the greatest acts of bravery," Dallas City Manager Mary K. Suhm said in a statement.
Dallas Fire Chief Louie Bright III said, "Our hearts are heavy and hurting with the loss of such a great firefighter, great husband and great family man."
Adolph Lander of Malone
Adolph H. Lander, 96, of Malone died Thursday April 18 after he was transferred from the badly damaged West Rest Haven nursing home. Services for Lander were on Sunday April 21 at Marshall & Marshall Funeral Directors Chapel in Hillsboro. Burial followed at Gerald Cemetery in Gerald. Lander was a Coryell County native, a World War II veteran, an avid gardener and a carpenter who enjoyed building birdhouses.
Jimmy Ray Matus of West
A burial Mass for Jimmy Ray Matus, 52, was held Tuesday April 30 at St. Mary's Catholic Church of the Assumption in West. Burial followed at St Mary's Cemetery. He was born in Waco, attended St. Mary’s School and graduated from West High School in 1979. He also attended McLennan Community College in Waco. He worked for his family’s business, Westex Welding & Fire Apparatus, for four decades.
"Jimmy was an outstanding man, someone who would go out of his way to help you. That's the way we are taught," said Garratt Matus of his father's cousin.
Judith Ann “Judy” Monroe, of West
Judith Ann “Judy” Monroe, 65, of West, died April 17 in West, to which she moved in 2001 after spending most of her life in South Texas. She was born in Stinton. Her family will hold a private celebration of her life.
Joseph F. “Joey” Pustejovsky of West, First Responder
A burial Mass was celebrated on April 26 at the Church of Assumption for Joseph F. “Joey” Pustejovsky, 29, of West. Burial followed at St. Mary’s Cemetery near West. Pustejovsky, who was a West volunteer firefighter as well as the town’s city secretary. Pustejovsky was born in Waco, attended St. Mary’s School in West and graduated from West High School in 2001. He also attended McLennan Community College in Waco.He had served as West’s city secretary since 2009 after working for Sears and as a property appraiser for the McLennan County Appraisal District.He was an avid Texas A&M fan who liked to hunt, play golf and spend time with his children and family.
"He was a very caring person, always ready to help, a very devout Catholic," said Veronica Felderhoff, a volunteer at the church where. Pustejovsky’s mother works as a secretary.
Cyrus Adam Reed of Houston, First Responder
Funeral services were held Friday, April 26 at Central Baptist Church in Hillsboro for Cyrus Adam Reed, 29, of Houston. A private memorial service was held at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27 at Bethany United Methodist Church, at 3511 Linkwood Drive in Houston. The Houston native was a member of the Abbott Volunteer Fire Department, the Bynum Volunteer Fire Department, West Ambulance, and a former member of the Elm Mott Volunteer Fire Department. He was an Eagle Scout. He was participating in EMS training in West on the night of the explosion and joined other first responders at the scene.
Mariano C. Saldivar, 57 of West
Mariano C. Saldivar, 57, retired from the warehousing industry about five years ago and moved from California to West to be closer to his family. A burial Mass was celebrated at 11 a.m. April 23 at the Church of the Assumption in West. He’ll be laid to rest in Portland, Ore. About 150 mourners gathered as a burial Mass was celebrated Tuesday morning. The Rev. Ed Karasek said during his eulogy that Saldivar was a devout Catholic and a family man. "He trusted in God whenever any one (of his relatives) was away on a trip or was ill, at times of hardship or sadness, during the drought or at times of war, when he lost loved ones," Karasek. Saldivar's wife is in Mexico and could not attend the service.
Kevin Sanders, First Responder
A service was held Wednesday May 1 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palos Hills, IL for Kevin Sanders, 33. Burial followed at the Plainfield Township Cemetery, Plainfield, IL. Sanders grew up in Palos Hills, a Chicago suburb, and graduated in 2001 from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. He taught a veterinary technician training course at McLennan Community College in Waco. He loved all things Superman and he and his wife Sarah named their now 3-month-old son Reeve, after “Superman” star Christopher Reeve. He was a volunteer firefighter in Bruceville-Eddy and was attending an EMT training course in West when the fire broke out. “He died doing what he loved to do by serving and protecting others and will be forever remembered as a hero,” his obituary said.
Doug and Robert Snokhous of West, First Responders
Brothers Robert and Doug Snokhouse, both volunteer firefighters, died in the explosion. A burial Mass was celebrated for the brothers Monday April 29 at the church. Burial followed at St. Mary’s Cemetery.
"We are comforted they were together at the end," the Snokhous family said in a statement.
Douglas James Snokhouse, 50, was born in Hillsboro and grew up in West. He played baseball and football for the West Trojans and graduated from West High School in 2981. He worked at Central Texas Iron Works for more than three decades.
Robert Snokhouse, 48, was born in Hillsboro and grew up in West. He was a 1982 graduate of West High School and earned an associate’s degree from Texas State Technical College in Waco. He was a project manager at Central Texas Iron Works.
William R. “Buck” Uptmor, Jr. of Abbott
A burial mass for William R. “Buck” Uptmor, Jr., 45, of Abbott, was celebrated Saturday April 27 followed by burial at St. Martin’s Cemetery in Tours. Uptmor, who graduated from West High School and attended Hill Junior College, was an Abbott volunteer firefighter, and owned and operated Utmor Welding and Construction. Uptmor's company built the local cemetery's fence, said Bill McKown, a retired school superintendent from Abbott. "He was always busy," building fences, McKown said, “because he was very reliable." Uptmor was the drummer for the band Billy Uptmor and the Makers and trained and jockeyed race horses. He also loved to rodeo, whether riding bulls or saddle and bareback broncos, according to an obituary released by a funeral home in West. "I told him, 'You probably got every bone in your body broken.' And he said, ‘That's probably true,'" McKown said.
Tony Lenart of Penelope
Tony Lenart, 87, of Penelope died April 21, 2013, in Waco after he was transferred from the badly damaged West Rest Haven nursing home, but the explosion wasn’t directly responsible for his death. A Rosary was recited on April 23 at Marshall & Marshall Funeral Directors in Hillsboro and a burial Mass will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 25 at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Penelope. He was a World War II veteran who served in the South Pacific who worked as a machinist for more than three decades and later operated his own business. He enjoyed restoring antique tractors, love Czech music and polka dancing.