By MARGIE WUEBKER
NEW BREMEN — Volunteers Ken Jutte and John Garman have
answered their final call with the New Bremen-German Township
Fire Department and gone home.
Memorial services held during the weekend for the firefighters
featured the somber ringing of the bell — three peals
in quick succession repeated three times. Tears rolled down
the cheeks of some firefighters as the bell shattered the stillness
of The Church of the Holy Redeemer. The tradition dates back
to a bygone era when firemen were summoned to service and then
discharged by bells instead of pagers.
“He has given his best. Our brother has answered his last
alarm. He has gone home,” a uniformed comrade told the
standing room only crowds after the ringing of the bells at
the memorial services Friday and Sunday evening.
The men, part of a brotherhood dedicated to service, paid the
ultimate sacrifice. Both died of injuries sustained Wednesday
morning in a fire and explosion at Hoge Lumber Co. in nearby
Nearly a thousand people came for Jutte’s Mass of Christian
Burial on Saturday morning at the church where he was a communion
distributor. Similar numbers are expected when Garman is laid
to rest this morning following a 10:30 a.m. Mass at the same
church where he had served as an usher.
People filed slowly past Jutte’s casket Friday evening
and Saturday. A child’s colorful drawing rested at his
feet. Neatly printed letters spelled out the message “He
is my hero.” Two angels decorated each corner.
“Ken believed in service,” the Rev. Larry Hemmelgarn
said during a eulogy for his cousin. “Ultimately, it was
that willingness to be of service that brought him to that call
Looking out over the mourners, he added “We celebrate
a life well lived and a man well loved.”
Laughter replaced tears as Hemmel-garn described the 44-year-old
Jutte as a “jokester” in life and that penchant
apparently followed him into the hereafter. The priest talked
of jotting down notes on a yellow legal pad and then using those
notes to write out the eulogy in its entirety. Prior to approaching
the podium, he reached into his pocket for the text.
“I found the notes and not the homily,” Hemmelgarn
said shaking his head. “We all know Ken could be a jokester.
I think he proved it again one last time.”
At the conclusion of the service, the white cloth covering Jutte’s
casket was replaced with the American flag that flew over the
U.S. Capitol on Friday. Sent via overnight carrier, it arrived
early Saturday morning. A shiny firefighter’s helmet rested
atop the flag.
Led by bagpiper and New Bremen native Tim Dicke of Cincinnati
and the Mercer County Fire Association Color Guard, the procession
passed beneath an arch formed by a Shawnee Fire Department bucket
truck and a Shelby County Fire Department ladder truck. A large
American flag suspended from the archway flapped loudly in the
autumn breeze. The wind also played with black ribbons decorating
New Bremen truck 6641 as the casket was loaded aboard for the
ride to German Protestant Cemetery.
Fire trucks that began converging on New Bremen shortly after
dawn moved along village streets and joined the procession with
lights flashing. Mourners lined the route from Eastmoor Drive
to Ohio 274 to Ohio 66. Many wiped tears; others stood with
hats in hand. A young boy standing near Schwieterman’s
Pharmacy saluted as the truck bearing the casket rolled by.
A group of women waved large American flags.
The route took Jutte, an 18-year veteran, past the firehouse
for the last time. His turnout gear — the coat and helmet
bearing his surname and a pair of boots — were on a chair
It took nearly 45 minutes for all the fire trucks, rescue squad
units and police cruisers to reach the cemetery. They parked
two abreast filling all the surrounding roads.
Fellow firefighter Scott Albers sat in a wheelchair with his
New Bremen comrades as the flag-draped casket was gently lifted
from the truck.
Albers’ hand shook as he saluted the man he had worked
beside atop the 71-foot silo Wednesday morning. When the explosion
blew off the lid on which they had been standing, Jutte fell
one way and the 23-year-old Albers fell the other, landing in
a dumpster filled with sawdust and cardboard. Luckily, he missed
the one end containing chunks of cement and metal rods. He suffered
a fractured leg and wrist as well as some back injuries.
Albers told doctors repeatedly that he wanted to go back home
to be with his “brothers” and they discharged him
from St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima early Saturday
The pallbearers — fellow members of the New Bremen department
— allowed relatives to carry the casket the final steps
to the gravesite.
“Amazing Grace” was played on the bagpipe. Columbus
firefighters, part of a contingent that came on two buses, provided
the thundering 21-gun salute.
Montezuma Fire Chief Roger Davenport and Celina Fire Department
volunteer Mike Bernstein removed the flag from the casket and
deftly folded it into the shape of a triangle. Then New Bremen
Fire Chief Bob Kuck and Assistant Fire Chief Steve McDermit
presented it to Jutte’s wife Martha. She cradled it to
her chest as tears flowed freely. She turned and gave one more
backward glance before walking away with her children.
Representatives from 100 fire departments, including some from
Chicago, Ill., and Detroit, Mich., came for the funeral. Some
went to a dinner at the New Bremen American Legion Hall while
others headed back to distant firehouses. They plan to return
today to honor Garman in similar fashion.
Calling hours for 40-year-old Garman, affectionately known by
the nickname “Jag,” were held Sunday and again this
morning. The diehard Cleveland Browns and Dale Earnhardt fan
relished being a volunteer firefighter. As fire-safety education
officer, he especially loved working with children and making
sure they knew what to do in the event of a fire. Those who
knew and loved him claim it was the high point of his 10-year
association with the department.
A mother remembers
A large color photograph in his casket shows Garman kneeling
on the concrete driveway outside the firehouse and helping a
youngster get the feel of the fire hose. His mother, Erline,
smiled as she gazed at the picture.
“I don’t know who is having the most fun —
the child or John,” she said quietly. “And when
the time came to spray water, John ended up as wet as the kids.”
Garman, who died when the force of the explosion knocked him
from New Bremen’s aerial bucket truck, also will be buried
at German Protestant Cemetery. His resting place is a stone’s
throw from that of Jutte. Family members felt it was appropriate
the men who worked together in life should not be separated