A respected Wyoming firefighter whom the community rallied around during illness has passed away.
George Klazinga, a long-time Wyoming firefighter and active volunteer died in hospital Monday night.
Two years ago, Klazinga began to feel weak. Just recently he was diagnosed with two rare blood disorders. His fellow firefighters and members of his church rallied around Klazinga and his family to support them emotionally and financially.
They held a highly successful event, Jamm’n for George, in November to raise money to help cover the costs of his medical expenses and to support the family.
Wyoming Fire Chief Mike Vasey says the department is struggling today. Vasey was a friend of Klazinga. “He was like the first guy to come up and introduce himself and show you around,” Vasey says, his voice choked with emotion. “We just kind of clicked from the get-go.”
Klazinga had been hospitalized for months when he was transferred to Bluewater Health. “He was told not to expect to ever go home.” Klazinga watched his daughter’s band play at Jamm’n for George via Skype.
But Klazinga surprised everyone, as his condition improved in December. “His big goal was to get home for his grandaughter’s birthday, I think it was the week before Christmas,” says Vasey. “That was the goal he set for himself to get out and he did it. It was her first birthday. It’s his only grandchild.”
Klazinga stayed at home for a couple of weeks, using a cane to get around and taking his walker to the door to welcome his friends inside. “He walked up and down the stairs even, they said he’d never be able to do that,” says Vasey adding it was his stubborn Dutch nature that propelled him on.
The Klazinga’s had an open house on New Year’s and Vasey says Klazinga greeted visitors and talked. “He wasn’t great, but he was good.”
Shortly after New Year’s he had more health problems and ended up in the hospital. He passed away, with family and his pastor at his side, late Monday.
Vasey says that would have been a comfort to him. “George was faithful to the church and that helped him along…He wasn’t an evangelist or anything like that but you just knew he believed.”
Vasey says the Wyoming Firefighters will be an honour guard at Klazinga’s funeral. Vistitation will be at the Wyoming Chapel Thursday from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm. There will be a Firefighter Walk Through at 6:30 pm Thursday. The funeral will be Friday at 11 am at the Wyoming Christian Reformed Church.