Emergency service personnel will gather Friday night for a formal visitation to honour John Frank Kovacs, the acting captain of Tillsonburg Fire Services who died Monday from brain cancer.
Kovacs, who died at age 54, joined Tillsonburg Fire Services 25 years ago. He also served three years with the Houghton Township Fire Department.
A Tillsonburg native raised in Houghton Township, Kovacs was an insurance broker and co-owner of E.R. Adams Insurance,Tillsonburg.
His business partner, Bob Smith, said Kovacs was “my little brother.”
“I was a firefighter for 22 years and because of my involvement, he tried it too,” Smith said. “He was a very conscientious and capable individual. John was physically strong and there was no task he was not willing to take on.”
Not only was Kovacs a dedicated firefighter, Deputy Fire Chief Terry Saelens said he was active in the local firefighters' association, serving as treasurer for 15 years.
“John played a key role in any fundraising and was active with everyone from recruits to retirees,” Saelens said.
“His passing is leaving a huge gap in the department,” he added.
Smith said Kovacs was an “uplifting individual.”
“He always saw the good side of everyone and was always positive.”
A walk-through of uniformed firefighters will take place Friday at 6 p.m. at the Verhoeve Funeral Home. The casket will be attended by an honour guard composed of members of Tillsonburg Fire Services.
Saelens said the walk-through of emergency personnel will acknowledge the casket and family members with a salute. Public visitation at the funeral home is from 2-4 and 6-9 p.m.
Kovacs will receive a full service “died in the line of duty” funeral on Saturday.
Saelens said the funeral will begin with a procession from the fire hall at 80 Concession St. East, beginning at 10:15 a.m. to St. Paul's United Church at 88 Bidwell Street.
The casket will be carried on Tillsonburg's antique 1933 Chev fire truck. Kovacs worked on the restoration of the vehicle, Saelens said.
The procession will include dignitaries, an EMS colour guard, the Burlington Pipe Band, an estimated 100 serving and retired firefighters from at least seven area fire departments, as well as members of the family.
Members of the public can also pay their respects along the procession route.
Devoted to his family, Kovacs was involved in his wife's dance group, but enjoyed hunting, fishing and riding his motorcycle. He was a strong supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the local food bank.
“John was a farm boy at heart and when he was off duty liked to dress up in bib coveralls,” Smith laughed.
Kovacs is survived by his wife Lena and children Travis and Nicole and stepchildren Nicolas, Henry and Rebecca Bartsch as well as grandchildren Lucas and Hunter Stuyt.