Local firefighter honored for a life of service

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Mon., Apr. 25, 2011
The Connecticut Firefighter Pipes and Drums brought solemnity and honor to the memorial procession to honor Robert Watts. The group has been attending funerals since 1993. Photos by Jennifer Coe.
The Connecticut Firefighter Pipes and Drums brought solemnity and honor to the memorial procession to honor Robert Watts. The group has been attending funerals since 1993. Photos by Jennifer Coe.

Windsor firefighter Robert Watts, who dedicated his life to service, was honored at a memorial held Saturday, April 23.

Watts, a Windsor firefighter for eight years, and a familiar face around town, died in the line of duty while responding to an emergency call at the Windsor Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center on April 18. Hundreds of firefighters from fire companies all over Connecticut came to pay their last respects to Watts and his family in the pouring rain at Sage Park Middle School.

"We lost a good one," said Windsor Fire Chief Bill Lewis during the ceremony. He went on to describe how Watts had "instantly fit in" when he came to Windsor, after having served as a firefighter in Manchester. "Bob was always the first one to volunteer... He was a valued member and will surely be missed," Lewis said, in a wavering voice, to a packed auditorium.

The service, which was attended by local and state officials including Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, paid tribute to a man who was known to have made firefighting his life. "The loss of one of our own can only be met with shock and sadness," said Mayor Donald Trinks. "May Bob’s passing serve as a reminder to all of us of the sacrifice of the Windsor firefighters."

After the ceremony, the family was brought outside to be presented with the American flag. Watts had also served his country as a U.S. Marine. As "Taps" was played, two Marines respectfully folded the flag draped over Watts’ casket and quietly presented it to the family. A volley of shots was fired by retired U.S. Marines, as the riderless horse stood close by.

"May Bob’s memory remind us of the value of watching out for one another," said Trinks.

At the end of the ceremony, a live call was placed to Winsor fire-dispatch. "Station W to firefighter Watts. Station W to firefighter Watts. Firefighter Roberts Watts does not answer. Firefighter Watts has answered his last call." This poignant moment was followed by the Connecticut Firefighters Pipes and Drums playing "Amazing Grace."

During the ceremony, Windsor’s fire departments were covered by many local firefighters from surrounding towns, including Suffield, Granby and Windsor Locks.

Watts leaves behind two teenage children. 


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