Factoryville’s recently fallen assistant fire chief Russell Gow was led through the town on Monday in a long procession of emergency vehicles. STAFF PHOTO/MICHAEL WINTERMUTE
Firefighter laid to rest
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Wyoming County Press Examiner
The Factoryville firefighter who died in the line of duty early last Thursday morning was remembered at his funeral Monday morning “as a grizzly bear of a man with the heart of a teddy bear.”
“Russell Gow III had an amazing ability to share his life,” Pastor Paul Fields, who also serves as chaplain of the Factoryville Fire Co., said.
“I only knew him 11 years, “ Fields said, “but when he first found out I was a minister I recognized his tone changed.”
Nearly everyone in the packed crowd at Litwin Funeral Home in Nicholson chuckled at the remark, but Fields said, “Seriously, Gow knew and cared for each and everyone of us.”
He recalled a conversation recently with the former Factoryville Fire Chief who was serving as first asst. chief to Gow’s son Brian at the time of his death.
Fields said when he told Gow that “We live in a society where they say fellowship is not important, Russ responded that ‘No, no, we need to take care of our community.’”
“He was that kind of a person,” Fields said. “We need many more Russes. He knew that each of us have a role in this world, and I sincerely believe that God puts people in the rught place at the right time.”
Late last Wednesday night, Gow, 58, died of a heart attack he suffered while operating the controls of the pump truck at a fire at 139 College Ave., just down the block from the fire hall.
His last fire call came at a little after 11 p.m.
He was taken to Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton and died roughly an hour later, 15 minutes after his fellow firefighters were able to gain control of the flames.
Fire Captain Kevin Howard gave a eulogy Monday and said “Russ died doing what he loved in Factoryville.”
He added that he was nearly certain that there was nobody better at controlling the water that went to fighting a fire and he seemingly could get it out of a stone if he had to.
Howard quoted 19th Century firefighter Edward Croker as saying “I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a firefighter.”
He said those could easily have been Gow’s utterances because he was that compassionate about what he did.
Howard closed his remarks citing an Alison Kraus song.
“You’re the lucky one I know that now
Don’t ask you why, when, where, or how. You look at the world thru your smilin’ eye.”
He closed, “Rest easy Russ, your watch is over.”
And with that Pastor Fields added a few closing remarks with last respects from the pallbearers.
They carried Gow’s casket out in the chilly November win with emergency responders from near and far standing at attention and saluting him for a job well done.
They hoisted his casket atop a Factoryville Fire Co. enngine and followed by a long contingency of emergency vehicles Gow was allowed to pass by the Factoryville fire hall one last time.
The procession then went up to the East Benton Cemetery near Fleetville.
At 1:35 p.m., a final tone went off over the Wyoming County 911 frequency in Gow’s honor.
The dispatcher noted, “Your dedication, heart and willingness to serve Station 9 and surrounding communities has been noted and well appreciated.”
He concluded, “You may be gone, Rooster, but a true hero is never forgotten.”