Community asked to join in paying respects for fire fighter

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Tommy Rees, a Jefferson Township fire fighter, passed away in his sleep on Dec. 28 while on duty at the station. He is shown here with his wife, Brooke, and their children: (from left) Emelya, Nash, Eileigh and Evelyn.

(Posted Jan. 3, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The Jefferson Township Fire Department is paying their respects to one of their own and asking the community to join in.

Fire fighter/EMT Tommy Rees, 38, passed away in his sleep while on duty at the fire station on Dec. 28. The preliminary autopsy report indicates that Rees suffered a large-scale cardiac event. He had no known pre-existing heart condition.

At the family’s request, Rees’s fellow fire fighters are providing sentry detail, taking turns standing guard with him at Rader-McDonald-Tidd Funeral Home in West Jefferson. They will do the same at Cypress Wesleyan Church, Galloway, where visitation is set for 12-6 p.m. Jan. 4 followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m. Jan. 5. Someone will be by Rees’s side around the clock until the time of burial at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in West Jefferson.

“He hasn’t been left alone one minute since it happened,” said Dylan Wildman, a Jefferson Township fire fighter.

The fire department invites community members to gather along Main Street in West Jefferson at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 5 and wave American flags for Rees’s homecoming. The casket will be carried aboard a fire engine at the lead of the funeral procession to the cemetery where bagpipes, drums and a bugle will play. A large turnout of fire and police apparatus from other departments is expected for the procession.

Rees will be sorely missed, Wildman said.

“Tommy was a friend to everyone and a stranger to no one. He’d give the shirt off his back to a complete stranger,” he said. “He was always upbeat, always happy to be at work. He was fun to be around.

“He really loved his family more than anything. Every night (at the station), he would be on his phone, FaceTiming his wife, FaceTiming his kids.”

Tommy Rees and his daughters, (from left) Eileigh, Emelya, and Evelyn, took part in Operation Santa’s Sleigh at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus on Dec. 23. First responders from throughout central Ohio surrounded the hospital with their vehicle lights flashing to bring joy to hospital patients at the holidays.

Born in Columbus, Rees was a 2002 graduate of West Jefferson High School. He worked part-time for many years for several central Ohio fire departments, including a total of 6.5 years with Jefferson Township. He was in the process of completing the civil service process in hopes of landing a full-time job with the Columbus Division of Fire. He worked full-time as an assessment coordinator in the physician’s assistant program at the Ohio University Medical Campus in Dublin.

Rees is survived by his wife of 10 years, Brooke Rees, and their children, Evelyn, 12, Emelya, 9, Eileigh, 7, and Nash, 3, along with his parents, Tom Rees and Vicki (Gary) McNeal, and many other family members, friends and co-workers.

Memorial donations may be made to assist the family with expenses. Checks made out to Brooke Rees or Local 3029 may be mailed to or dropped off at: Jefferson Township Fire Department, Station 251, 745 W. Main St., West Jefferson OH 43162. Donors also can drop off cash at the station. Additionally, donations may be made to a GoFundMe account set up in Rees’s name at https://gofund.me/32a8c2de. To date, the GoFundMe page has raised nearly $40,000. All proceeds benefit the family.

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