NICHOLSON — Hunting buddies, relatives, and firefighters by the truckload lined up Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to Factoryville’s legendary former fire chief Russell Gow.
The Red Cross even set up a heated tent more than 50 yards long to keep the crowd of mourners at the visitation comfortable.
While the funeral director in Nicholson called the setup for the visitation unprecedented, Gow was also remembered at one of his favorite places, Fire Station #9 in Factoryville where a memorial sits outside.
Gow’s cap still sits on his locker right next to his good friend Assistant Chief Ned Sherman.
“We were the two oldest guys left, active guys in the company, and we are going to have a chat about him leaving me,” Sherman said, his voice cracking with emotion.
Sherman was with him early Thursday morning at the house fire on College Avenue that turned out to be his final call.
Gow, 58, was taken to the hospital for what was initially believed to be smoke inhalation but turned out to be a fatal heart attack.
Sherman said that his friend would tell everyone not to cry.
“The last four days since that’s occurred, we have sat here sharing “Rooster” stories and just laughing because that is what he would want,” explained Sherman.
“Rooster’s” legacy continues. His son Brian Gow is the department’s current chief. Russell had been elected to take over again as chief in January to give his son a break.
Gow also mentored another Factoryville hero, the department’s first African-American firefighter, Daniel “J.J.” Lomax, who died in June helping at the scene of a car crash.
Russell will get a chance to ride his favorite truck one more time when it carries his coffin to his funeral Monday.
Factoryville Fire Captain Kevin Howard said, “We are sad that he is gone. We are going to miss him, but there is that comfort he died doing what he loved to do.”
Funeral services for Russell Gow are scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. in Nicholson at the Charles Litwin funeral home. A procession through Factoryville past the fire station will follow. Burial will be at the East Benton cemetery.