Hundreds mourn Brookline firefighter

BROOKLINE – A solemn cemetery service on Tuesday, Nov. 26, marked the unexpected death of Curt Jensen, 51, a Brookline firefighter who died on Nov. 20 at his home.

Fire department personnel from Brookline, Merrimack, Hudson, Hollis and many other towns, along with emergency rescue crews and police representatives joined Jensen’s family, friends, coworkers and neighbors in honoring his memory.

The crowd that attended visitations the previous day at Smith & Heald Funeral Home in Milford, services at Brookline Community Church on the morning of the burial, and the subsequent services at Brookline’s Pine Grove Cemetery numbered around 700. They extended support to his wife of 13 years, Jodi, and his three children, Jered, Macyn and Cheyann, along with other family members from as far away as Ellenton, Fla.

At the cemetery, where grave sites date to 1776, two ladder trucks, Milford Ladder 1 and Townsend Ladder 1, were stationed on each side of the entrance with a huge American flag suspended from a cable bridging the extended booms of the trucks.

The funeral cavalcade passed beneath the flag. It was a procession of motorcycle escorts, private vehicles, new and antique fire trucks, uniformed marchers, drummers and bagpipe players keening a somber melody.

Jensen’s draped casket was borne high atop a slow-moving fire truck flanked by Jensen’s brethren from the Brookline Fire Department. Some, as they walked, extended a gloved hand from time to time to touch the side of the truck.

The Granite State Fire Service Support Team, a volunteer group of mostly career, volunteer, and on-call firefighters, was on- hand to handle the logistics of the event. The team’s presence ensured that the family and Jensen’s associates were free to mourn unhindered by the many details inherent in organizing, conducting and completing the services.

Bedford’s Tom Green, Frank Fraitzl, and Deputy Chief Mark Klose were among the members of the Granite State Fire Service Support Team on-site. Green said they were there to enable the members of the various fire departments to deal with the remembrance of their colleague.

“We’re ready to do the heavy lifting, so they can be free to mourn,” Green said. “We come in and help plan the event, do little tweaks here and there, and see that the family’s wishes and the department’s wishes are followed to make sure of a proper farewell.”

Susan Adams, a Brookline resident of more than six years and a member of the town’s Select Board, paid her respects at Jensen’s grave site.

“I’m here out of respect for his service to the town,” Adams said. “My dad was a fireman. I know that when that whistle blows, they go. We need to show our appreciation for the volunteers we have in this town.”

Jensen spent more than 30 years in the fire service. The past 27 years he was with the Brookline Fire Department. A three-year post as chief and, most recently, a 19-year service as deputy assistant chief underscored his dedication. He also was a member of the Milford Volunteer Fire Department and lieutenant of Engine 4 in the mid- to late-1980s. In addition, Jensen was a deputy fire warden for the state of New Hampshire.

Brookline Fire Chief Charley Corey recalled Jensen’s enthusiasm in coaching baseball, adding, “the kids loved him.” He also said Jensen helped instruct fire department newcomers mastering the techniques and the apparatus that saves lives.

“He was my best friend,” Corey said. “He had 27 years on the fire department, so there’s some big holes there. He was a great guy and always willing to help whether it was the fire department, his friends or his family.”

Brookline Police Chief William Quigley, a veteran of 38 years in law enforcement, expressed his admiration for Jensen.

“I’ve known Curt for a long time,” Quigley said. “He had a great sense of humor and was passionate about his job and passionate about his family. He’ll be greatly missed.”

On Tuesday, family and friends wept at the cemetery. A recitation highlighted the need to make every moment of life count and a fire bell was struck with a mallet three times, a 200-year-old fire service tradition that announces a comrade’s duties completed and marks permission to go home. A celebration of Jensen’s life was held afterward at the Brookline Event Center on Route 130.

There, Jodi Jensen and the family received guests who shared a banquet of food, memories and hugs. Jodi said a coronary is blamed for her husband’s death.

“My husband was an amazing man,” she said. “I wish I could sum it up in one word. When you became a friend of his, you became his family. He has touched every one of these people – hundreds of them.”

Jensen was born in Nashua on Sept. 1, 1962, a son of Ross Jensen, of Brookline, and Doris (McCormack) McDonald, of Ellenton, Fla. He was a lifelong resident of Brookline and a graduate of Hollis Area High School’s Class of 1980. His family, fellow firefighters and associates in the plumbing and heating industry comprised his circle of friends. He was the store manager at Wetherbee Plumbing and Heating in Milford for 20 years.

In lieu of flowers, donations may go to TD Bank, Attn: Curt Jensen Fund, 7 South St., Milford, NH 03055 or any TD Bank Branch or to the Brookline Fire Department Association, P.O. Box 174, Brookline, NH 03033.

Arrangements were in the care of Smith & Heald Funeral Home, Milford. C ondolences can be offered at www.smith-heald.com.