Family, friends and fellow firefighters are mourning the death of Walter Patmon Jr., an 18-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department.
It is evident from the words from his wife and colleagues that Patmon had great passion for his firefighting profession. When many others would have given up on a career long-since lost, Patmon waited for a department opening and he finally seized it, two years from retirement, the unexpected happened Sunday night.
He was truck 40's driver, meaning that Patmon was a roof man at fire scenes, a dangerous job in a profession with many.
Sunday evening, after returning from a fire call, the 61-year-old Patmon fell short of breath, was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead from a heart attack.
Monday, the bunting went up on the firehouse while his colleagues tried to stay upbeat.
"Every morning I came here, we'd be sitting talking and laughing, always had a smile on his face, never let nothing bring him down," said Lt. Gerald Glover.
"He brought a father figure type of vibe to the firehouse. He was very mature and a fun guy, a great guy you could learn from," said Lt. Louis Richardson.
"I felt terrible knowing that he was so close to retirement," said firefighter Dave Beeson. "I figured he would be retiring in the next two years."
Patmon started with the fire department in 1994 as a 43-year-old rookie. His wife Diane said that her husband felt his dream job was with worth waiting for.
"He really wanted to be with the firefighters and that's what he wanted to be, where he thought he could help people the most," Diane Patmon said.
Patmon was beloved at the firehouse, not merely for his sense of humor, but also for his cooking, and his specialty, barbeque.
"You go to different shifts and you find out who was the good cooks on the shifts, so he's got a name for himself," said Griffin.
"He brought barbeque to a science," Beeson said. "He had his own dry rub, we called it 'the bub rub,' I'm sure there's some in the cabinet now. We're going to miss him.
It is beyond doubt a very tough time for the Chicago Fire Department as there have been four deaths in the last several weeks.