CHEEKTOWAGA – Over 200 people filled the Maryvale Drive Presbyterian Church in Cheektowaga Wednesday morning to say goodbye to longtime Cleveland Hill firefighter and Fire Commissioner Robert “Bob” Trautman.
Mr. Trautman died on February 15th of natural causes inside his home.
His body arrived at the church inside the crew cab of one of Cleveland Hill’s fire engines. Members of the department lined the long walkway to the church and saluted his casket as it passed by.
Wednesday’s funeral service follows the calling hours that were held Tuesday at the Cleveland Hill Fire Department. During her sermon, Rev. Dorothy Pearman spoke of the comradery and respect she saw that night.
“I stood a bit behind the family as one by one the firefighters filed past Bob’s body in the casket with some of his favorite things – a Molson, a Genny, scratch offs, and a golf ball amongst other things – but I watch as almost all the men and women, young and old, active and inactive, tears formed in your eyes,” she said. “You firefighters lost not only one of your colleagues, but one of your very close family members and I know your grieve just as this family grieves.”
Listen to Cheektowaga Fire Control’s sendoff for Mr. Trautman
A lifelong resident of Cheektowaga, Mr. Trautman joined the Cleveland Hill Fire Department at the age of 21 and was the oldest active member when he died at the age of 67. During his time at the fire department, he served as president, fire chief, and was a fire commissioner for the last 25-years.
Mr. Trautman worked at General Motors for 42-years and retired 7-years ago.
He married his wife Janice 44-years ago.
“Jan shared that he was the love of her life and the kids added that he worshiped the ground she walked on,” Rev. Pearman said. “Bob was Jan’s best friend and best friend to so many of you, including his children and you firefighters. The fire company was the Trautman’s second family. It was a source of compassion and strength for them throughout their lives, but especially now.”
A sentiment his son Donald Trautman echoed during a special address to the department during the funeral service.
“You were the home away from the home that made the relationship with my mother stronger with my father. It was his escape. He cherished his times at ‘The Hill’ whether it was a call, drill night, lots of meetings, or just 4 o’clock happy hours downstairs at the bar,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my father. Even though my father may not have always shown it, he loved you all. The respect that he had of being a fireman was absolutely unreal. The one thing I know that he would be proud of is how you guys all came together these last couple of days, and that’s everything he would have wanted.”
In one final toast to their father, siblings Donald, Kelli, and Jill saluted their father with beers in hand.
“Cheers dad, we absolutely love you,” said Donald.
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