Firefighter’s life, legacy, family honored by Reds

Reds CEO Bob Castellini (right) speaks with the family of CFD FAO Daryl Gordon before Monday's game. From left to right: daughter A.J. Gordon, Mrs. Angela Gordon, daughter Chelsea Gordon.

Kevin Goheen

CINCINNATI — "Hello, Mrs. Gordon?"

"Yes."

"I was an acquaintance of your husband from the Friendly Stop."

Angela Gordon starts to chuckle. It’s not the first time she has heard this. It won’t be the last time.

"He had a lot of acquaintances from the Friendly Stop," Angela Gordon says, her smile beaming through the other end of the phone connection.

Daryl Gordon had a lot of people in his life who were more than acquaintances. They were his friends. They were his family. They extended throughout Greater Cincinnati and beyond.

Gordon, a 30-year member of the Cincinnati Fire Department, died in the line of duty on March 26. He was searching for survivors while helping battle a fire in a five-story apartment building. For more than 25 years Gordon served on the department’s Special Details unit, earning recognition as a Senior Bomb Technician. He helped make safe visits by President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. He later became a Fire Apparatus Operator with Heavy Rescue 14.

The Reds honored the memory of FAO Gordon Monday night prior to their game with Atlanta. Rain delayed the start of the game and forced an interruption on the pre-game ceremony in which the organization presented a check worth $3,086 to the Firefighter Daryl Gordon Memorial Fund. Angela Gordon was on the field with daughters Angelique (A.J.) and Chelsea and friends CFD Capt. Chris Miller and his wife Pat Neal-Miller when a rain shower caused everyone to go back inside.

They didn’t mind. They were escorted to the interview room where they all took turns standing behind a podium, pretending to take questions and actually taking selfies. About 10-15 minutes passed before the weather subsided and the ceremony took place.

It was a night of reprieve for the Gordons, a chance to take a breath. There haven’t been enough of those for them since March 26.

Byrd is the word: Reds' left fielder finding his stroke

"I was really happy to come out and spend some time with my girls who are home from college now and have a fun time, a good time and remembering their father," said Mrs. Gordon. "It’s nice for (the Reds) to want to honor him."

Mrs. Gordon is a teacher at Withrow University High School. She’s teaching ACT prep this year. Next year she’ll be teaching a foundation of business class to freshmen. She’s been a teacher for 25 years. She and her husband had been married for 27 years. She didn’t know all of his friends or acquaintances. There were so many of them. Who could possibly keep track?

The Friendly Stop, in Glendale, was a favorite spot of Daryl Gordon. Capt. Miller was not just a long-time friend and colleague but a neighbor. Thursday nights was a good time to catch them at the Stop although, really, any night they were there was a good time to catch them.

The death of FAO Daryl Gordon was the definition of needless tragedy. The only thing it has done is reinforce to Angela Gordon what she knew about her husband.

"It’s just been," said Mrs. Gordon, pausing for a moment to find the right words. As if there are any. "It’s just been a horrific event in our lives. It has turned our lives upside down, but it’s been nice to meet all the people that knew Daryl and have had some nice things to say about him. It has completely changed our lives. We’re just taking it one day at a time and trying to stay positive.

"I always knew that Daryl had a good heart and was a good person. It’s just nice to hear other people that knew the same thing that I knew about him. That was great. That was really nice. It’s just nice to meet so many people that had so many nice things to say about him. That was very comforting."