a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A tearful goodbye to a fireman

STOCKDALE – Watching Linda Whiten follow her husband’s casket away from his funeral today made everyone who was there cry with her.

She carried a folded flag while clutching the arm of her son Sean, who shares his father’s first name and love of fire departments.

Even newspaper photographers who didn't know Roscoe Fire Capt. Sean T. Whiten, 47, wept with the nearly 1,000 mourners who came to the funeral in Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department along the Monongahela River in southwestern Pennsylvania.

I hardly knew Whiten, having just talked with him on the telephone a few times about his fire calls in the years before he died of a heart attack Saturday. He collapsed while teaching fire school for Westmoreland County Community College near Smithton.

But surely he was a helluva nice guy like his brother, Bob, who has been fire chief for many years in nearby Charleroi. Bob serves his community well and always presents himself in public as a gentleman in times of stress.

The Whitens are the type of community minded people who can make hundreds of brave men sob in their footsteps.

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