Years later, fallen firefighters to be honored

By Jill Harmacinski
Staff writer

DANVERS John Horgan remembers the pungent smell of his father's pipe, the Volkswagen bus his dad used to drive and how his mother washed his father's firefighter's uniform by hand.

But his most vivid memory relating to his father is from April 4, 1965.

Horgan was just 4 1/2 years old when a fire official and a priest arrived at the door of his Clark Street home. In hushed voices, the two men confirmed his mother's worst fear her husband, firefighter James Horgan, had collapsed and died while fighting a fire.

"She just started screaming and hit the floor," John Horgan recalled this week.

On Sunday, North Shore firefighters will remember fallen comrades in ceremonies and Masses throughout the region. In Danvers, the ceremony will remember in particular James Horgan and John "Dud" Lynch, two firefighters who died decades ago but were never properly memorialized by the department.

Firefighters discovered the oversight while preparing a recent staffing report and decided to invite relatives from both families this Sunday. In a brief ceremony at High Street headquarters, plaques for Horgan and Lynch will be unveiled and later placed among pictures of other fallen firefighters inside the station.

"American flags will be raised and lowered in their honor and turned over to the families," said Brian Barry, president of the Danvers firefighters' union.

Lynch died on June 19, 1945. Then Fire Chief Joseph Kelley found the 45-year-old dead in a fire station on Holten Street. He had apparently died in his sleep.

Lynch's niece, Lorraine (Richards) Torrey, recalled her uncle as a man who was always "full of fun." A Danvers native, Torrey, 78, lives in Lynn and plans to attend Sunday's service.

Her uncle, who she knew as "Duddy," was "just a nice man with a great personality," she said.

John Horgan said he's grateful to the department for planning the memorial service after so many years. At the same time, he's a bit apprehensive.

"I really don't know how I'm going to feel," he said.

After his father's death, his mother made him promise he wouldn't pursue a firefighting career. Today, the former Marine works with explosives to demolish buildings. He lives with his wife and two children on Collins Street.

Over the years, the loss of his dad wasn't something that consumed his thoughts.

"But I missed out on a lot," he said. "Like when I signed up for Little League, I was the only kid there with a mother. All of the other kids had fathers."

Today, he still has his father's uniform hat, with badge No. 15 pinned to it. And he thinks of his dad often.

"Every time I see a fire truck," he said.

Staff reporter Jill Harmacinski can be reached at (978) 338-2652 or by email at

Remembering firefighters

The following fire departments are holding memorial services Sunday:

Peabody 8 a.m., Marching from headquarters at 41 Lowell St. to the Wallis Street Cemetery.

Salem 9 a.m., Salem fire station 4, 415 Essex St.

Danvers 9 a.m., Mass at St. Richard's Church, 90 Forest St.

Beverly 9 a.m., Mass at St. Mary's Church, 253 Cabot St.

Ipswich 10 a.m., Service at First Church, Meetinghouse Green, followed by 11:15 a.m. ceremony at Highland Cemetery.