PROSSER, WA - On Tuesday Firetrucks lined the streets outside of Prosser Funeral Home, where family, friends, and co-workers gathered to honor Luis Lopez.
Lopez was a community fixture as a volunteer firefighter for Benton and Franklin counties, often participating in parades, and bringing smiles to local kids by dressing up as Santa Claus during the holidays.
According to Seth Johnson, Fire Chief of West Benton Fire Rescue, "Firefighter Lopez spent more than 12 years as a Volunteer Firefighter for our agency and left our department in 2018, when he moved to the Connell area with his new wife. After settling in, he began to volunteer with Franklin County Fire District #1 which provides emergency services to Eltopia, Mesa and the area surrounding Connell."
Lopez’s niece Sandra Lemus says she will always remember her uncle with a smile on his face, and as a person full of passion for life and people.
"He had a big heart, just like my dad... he was a happy person and he opened his heart to any person. I never saw Luis sad, he was just always giving back to the community and putting others first in all things." Lemus told NBC Right Now.
This is a hard time for the Lopez family, Lemus also says her uncle gave her strength when she lost her father (Lopez’s brother) to COVID-19 not long ago, and she says she will remember that forever.
"I saw in him (Luis Lopez) that when my father passed, despite the pain, he was strong for us. Losing him has left a lot of pain, and a great void in our family," Lemus said.
Dozens of co-workers also stopped by to honor one of their own. Tom Holmes, who managed Lopez at The City of Pasco Public Works says it hurts to see a good one go.
"It’s not easy- it’s terrible for the family, and he was a big loss for us also... no matter where he went he had a big impact on everybody," said Holmes.