LONG ISLAND - To his city, Jesse Gerhard will be remembered as a hero.
"We salute his courage, commitment and dedication," said Mayor Eric Adams.
And to his family, the 33-year-old EMT turned firefighter was a loyal son, brother, godfather, and uncle.
"How have 33 years of being your brother flown by in the blink of an eye but these past few days you’ve been gone, felt like an eternity," said Jesse’s sister-in-law, Kristi Gerhard.
On Wednesday, thousands of fellow firefighters were among those who lined the streets of Bay Shore to mourn and celebrate one of their own. Gerhard who followed in the footsteps of his great-grandfather by committing his life to serve others.
"I think it’s important that the family see how much Jesse is loved and cared for even by people who didn’t know him," said president Lt. James McCarthy with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association of NYC.
Gerhard collapsed after a "medical episode" a day after he responded to a two-alarm fire in Queens last week.
"All of us here today remember what a bright star he was," said acting fire commissioner Laura Kavanagh.
…A bright star and light that went out too soon. Those who knew him say Gerhard died living out his dream as one of New York’s bravest. He was also a volunteer firefighter at the Islip Fire Department and loved carpentry.
Pipes and drums played as the fire trucks from Ladder 134 where Gerhard served read "In loving memory." He was always an inspiration to his fellow brothers.
"He did his job," said firefighter Michael Ormiston. "He did it well. He never complained."
And to his own brother…His sister-in-law speaking on his behalf.
"I can’t explain how proud I was, how you lived out your dreams and inspired me every day," Kristi Gerhard said.
Gerhard will continue saving the lives of others as an organ and tissue donor.