By Jessica Easthope
A look into the life of a hero, Jesse Gerhard’s legacy as a son, uncle, friend and firefighter lives on in the memories of those closest to him.
“Jesse Gerhard is the kind of person a firefighter would describe if he was asked to build the perfect firefighter, he did his job, he did it well, he never complained and he made everyone feel safer in the face of peril,” said firefighter Michael Ormiston.
That ‘perfect firefighter’ made the ultimate sacrifice. Last week, Gerhard collapsed at his Far Rockaway firehouse and was rushed to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital where he was pronounced dead. A day before Gerhard was doing what he loved – working as an FDNY “irons man,” the most strenuous job in the department, breaking down the door of a burning home to help rescue victims from a raging fire.
Protecting the lives and property of every day New Yorkers was his chosen profession, his dream job, a job, not work,” said acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh.
Jesse was also a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Islip where he and his family go to church. They’re now leaning on their faith and parish community after his sudden passing.
“This is not the end, someday we will see him again, maybe not tomorrow or next month or next year, but we will see him again,” said FDNY Chaplain Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello.
“Please know how much we love you and how we share with you in this moment,” said Bishop Robert Brennan.
Jesse’s selflessness in life and on the job is continuing in death. He’s a tissue donor and according to LiveOnNY 50 to 75 people’s lives will be changed thanks to his donation. His family, though they have much to be proud of – say all they want is more time.
“I want one more day,” said Gerhard’s sister-in-law Kristi, speaking on his brother Casey’s behalf. “Just to show you how much we love you.”