Firefighters pay tribute to fallen colleague Walter Patmon Jr.
MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 20, 2012 8:15PM
Visitation for Chicago firefighter Walter Patmon Jr, honor guard firefighters walk to the funeral home. November 20, 2012 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: December 22, 2012 6:37AM
Hundreds of Chicago firefighters in dress blue uniforms and white gloves said goodbye Tuesday to their colleague Walter Patmon Jr.
Mr. Patmon, 61, suffered a fatal heart attack Nov. 11 after returning to his Beverly firehouse from a minor fire — a salmon filet overcooked in a broiler.
At his visitation, his wife, Diane, and three daughters — the joy of Mr. Patmon’s life — sat nearby a photo board showing Mr. Patmon in mid-swing in a softball game; posed for a family portrait; dressed up as a cowboy, and grilling barbecue over hot coals.
“I’m extremely pleased with the care the fire department and the city have shown to my family,” Diane Patmon said.
Colleagues remembered his easygoing attitude, ability to make people smile and his love of fighting fires.
“He really liked going into fires,” said Lt. Arthur Sanders, who said he tried to convince him on multiple occasions to transfer to a less busy firehouse. “He wanted to stay right where he was. He’d become the number one truck driver on his shift and he took pride in being the guy who raised the aerial ladder and climbed up to the roof to cut holes to ventilate the fire.”
He also took great pride in his daughters, ages 21, 26 and 29, friends said.
“One is a registered nurse, one is a nurse practitioner, and the third is a senior in college,” retired fire Capt. Irving Brown said.
Mr. Patmon, known to friends as “Bubble,” was a barbecue cook who had his own mix of beloved barbecue spices he called “Bub Rub.”
“He was like a barbecue king, that was his passion,” Brown said. “I can’t get any more Bub Rub. I never did know what he put in it.”
Mr. Patmon became a firefighter at 43 after working as a truck driver and mailroom clerk at a hospital.
“He was just funny,” said his older brother, Joe Williams. “Even when he was trying to be serious he was funny.”
A giant American flag hung beneath two outstretched fire truck ladders extended over South Cottage Grove Avenue on Tuesday night, down the street from Leak and Sons Funeral Home, where Mr. Patmon’s visitation was held.
His funeral is Wednesday.