Palm Beach County Fire Rescue District Chief Henry Cusell was known for many things. He was a 32-year firefighter and a passionate outdoorsman. His wife and children knew him simply for his love.
His daughter Jaclynn Cusell said their bond was strongest when they were hunting.
"Hunting is not killing. It's what you do when you're out there sitting in a treestand or sitting in sugar cane waiting on doves," said Jaclynn Cusell. For her, that was "talking about whatever comes to mind" with her father.
Mr. Cusell died of cancer Sunday at Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach. He was 53.
Married for 32 years, her parents "had love that is unspeakable," Jaclynn Cusell said
Childhood sweethearts, Mr. Cusell and his wife, Mary, married in 1971. He was working at a gas station in Lake Worth with one of her brothers, who introduced the two of them. She was 16. Mr. Cusell was 20.
They had three children.
Her brother also is partly responsible for Mr. Cusell becoming a firefighter. Mr. Cusell was still working at the gas station when her brother, now employed with the Florida Forestry Service, caught wind of some openings with the Del Trail Fire Department and suggested Mr. Cusell apply.
"It was something that just popped up," Mary Cusell said. "He even took a $100 pay cut because he knew it would lead somewhere better than just being a hose jockey at the local gas station."
Mr. Cusell attended the national Fire Academy in Maryland, joined the Del Trail Fire Department in 1972 and was promoted through the ranks. He was in charge of training when Del Trail consolidated with the county system in 1984.
Eventually, three of his nine siblings would work with him at the county fire department.
"We used to tease him about that," said longtime friend and co-worker Ed Hines. "We'd say, `Henry, if you keep hiring your relatives this whole department will be Cusells.'"
Taking care of his family was nothing new to the Havana native. At 15, he supported his family on a newspaper boy's salary when his father was sick with hepatitis, Mary Cusell said.
As a firefighter, Mr. Cusell led by example, Hines said. Several years ago, Mr. Cusell had a fender-bender in the station parking lot and "actually went into the office and wrote himself up [to be] disciplined," Hines said
"Probably, if you did it in your personal car you wouldn't call the insurance company," said the friend of more than 30 years. "It spoke volumes about his integrity."