“This is the last call for Firefighter Mike Smith. He is not to respond to the station again. He is to return home to be with the Lord.”
Those were the words that carries across local public safety airways shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday, when the 43-year-old Gloucester firefighter was laid to rest.
Fire engines surrounded the Dolliver Memorial Cemetery on the clear afternoon, and Smith was laid to rest in the small West Gloucester cemetery in the company of his family, fellow firefighters, and friends. A company of firefighters and police from across the North Shore stood at attention , out of respect for a fallen comrade as taps played. Smith’s funeral service was held at St. Ann’s Church at 10:30 that morning.
His casket lay on a Gloucester fire engine draped with purple banners. Two officers, pall bearers, stood on the back of the engine as the funeral procession left St. Ann’s and then wound down Essex Avenue toward the cemetery off of Lincoln Street.
Gloucester fire engines driven by firefighters in full dress uniform led the procession, which consisted police and fire vehicles from surrounding towns as well as numerous vehicles driven by friends and family. Cars lined Essex Avenue where it met Lincoln Street as people walked down toward the cemetery.
Smith became a Gloucester firefighter when he graduated High School in 1987. Smith fought fires and served residents in need for 17 years. But in 2000 he began another battle, one with cancer.
He recovered from his first round and became a team organizer for Gloucester’s Relay for Life, an annual event that raises funds to support continued cancer research, while remembering those lost to cancer and recognizing cancer survivors as well.
Smith died last Saturday in Mass. General Hospital after a four month battle with lung cancer. He leaves his wife of 15 years, Mary-Beth, and three children, Noah, Luke, and Josh.
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3455, or at email@example.com.