Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Final Salute for Fallen Brother

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Final Salute for Fallen Brother

Article excerpt

WALLINGTON -- It was all too familiar.

For the fourth time in half as many years, this small, close- knit borough in south Bergen County turned out Saturday to mourn the loss of a member of its volunteer fire department, joining comrades, friends and family members at funeral services for Frank Stetz.

The 48-year-old motorcycle enthusiast and lifelong borough resident was killed May 28 when his motorcycle collided with a van on the Garden State Parkway near Toms River. Police said the van was driven by an intoxicated 17-year-old, who was charged with a DWI and may face additional charges.

On Saturday, Stetz's hometown marked his untimely passing with the requisite and appropriate pomp and ceremony.

Just before 10 a.m., a bagpiper announced the arrival of the funeral procession at the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church. More than a dozen motorcyclists, themselves firefighters, led the way, as firetrucks, one laden with funeral wreaths, pulled up to the church steps. Stetz's casket arrived in a five-wheeled motorcycle hearse.

More than 60 firefighters in dress blues, including Mayor Mark Tomko, saluted as eight firefighters, four on each side, removed the casket and carried it into the church.

Monsignor Felix R. Marciniak blessed the casket with holy water then covered it in a white shroud. A small silver crucifix was placed on top, next to Stetz's own fire helmet.

"There's a great hurting and a terrible, crushing sense of loss, felt by all present in this church," Marciniak said during Mass, noting that the church was where Stetz had been baptized and received First Communion and Confirmation. "There is justified anger here too, accompanied by shock, disbelief and amazement."

After the service, a procession of more than 200 marched down Paterson Avenue and Union Boulevard to the firehouse where Stetz had served for 17 years. …

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