Yesterday, I lost a friend of mine.
Brian Woehlke and I became good friends in high school. We went to a small school in Westland, Michigan. It’s the kind of school where you know everybody by first and last (and probably middle) names. We played soccer and basketball, ran track and sang in the choir together.
I tried out for the soccer team with Brian our freshman year. Brian was a great soccer player and had no problem making the team. I, on the other hand, was one of two guys cut from the team. I was crushed and wanted to give up.
But Brian wouldn’t let me. He worked with me to improve my game and inspired me to try out again the next year. I ended up making the team with Brian’s help, and went on to become a co-captain with him our senior year. It was one of the biggest thrills of my life to share that honor with him.
Brian went on to become a firefighter in Westland. This was no surprise to those who knew him. That’s just who Brian was: a man who would go out of his way to help a person in need.
Brian lost his life in the line of duty yesterday. Everybody who knew Brian will miss him terribly. He was a joy in our lives.
The Detroit Free Press wrote a good article about the incident and the kind of person that Brian was to those around him.
He is survived by his wife Jenny and his 13-month-old daughter Ava.
The Westland Firefighters are accepting donations in Brian’s honor. All proceeds will be forwarded to a trust for his daughter. Please consider sending a gift to:
Westland Firefighters Charity
P.O. Box 851320
Westland, MI 48415
You can also give using the PayPal button below.