Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood honors fallen firefighter

Neighbors Karen Falco (left) and Kathleen Hirl console Capt. Michael Goodwin's son Michael Jr. outside the Goodwin home in the Far Northeast.
Neighbors Karen Falco (left) and Kathleen Hirl console Capt. Michael Goodwin's son Michael Jr. outside the Goodwin home in the Far Northeast. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 10, 2013

Yellow and red were the colors of sorrow Monday on Friar Place in the Far Northeast.

Yellow, in the form of Capt. Michael Goodwin's firefighter helmet, set in the window of his brother's house. Red, the ribbons tied to railings, and the new crimson porch lights every neighbor will turn on to mark Goodwin's death fighting a fire in South Philadelphia Saturday night.

Against that backdrop Goodwin's family, neighbors and fellow firefighters gathered on his block and remembered Goodwin as a "good guy" who died doing the job he loved.

"We lost a very big part of our family, and he can't be replaced," Michael Goodwin Jr. said in the first public statement from the Goodwins. "We're going to stay strong and carry on."

Goodwin, a 29-year Philadelphia Fire Department veteran, died Saturday night fighting a three-alarm fire in a Queen Village fabric store. He was 53 and was promoted to battalion chief upon his death in the line of action, as called for by a recent city law.

Goodwin Jr., 26, said he will miss waking up in the morning and knowing his father is there. His father was a Navy man who loved the Phillies. Goodwin smiled as he remembered his father's distinctive mustache.

Growing up with a firefighting father "was like having a superhero, but I looked at him as Dad," Goodwin said at a news conference in front of the Goodwin home in the Parkwood Manor section of Northeast Philadelphia. "I want people to remember him as a hero."

In addition to his son, Goodwin is survived by his wife, Kelly; his mother, Elizabeth; a daughter, Dorothy Dunn; two grandchildren; and three siblings.

Goodwin's neighbors honored him by placing ribbons on their railings and replacing their normal front-entrance lighting with red lightbulbs.

"We're just doing everything we can to support them," said Erica Holt, 27, whose father, Lt. Eric Marunich, and husband, Joseph Holt Jr., are city firefighters. She said losing Goodwin "is like losing a second dad. . . . The Fire Department lost a great guy."

The Marunich and Goodwin families both moved to Friar Place in the early 1990s, Holt said. Her father and Goodwin became city firefighters within months of each other.

Goodwin's death came just short of a year after firefighter Daniel Sweeney and Lt. Robert Neary died fighting a Kensington industrial fire on April 9, 2012.

"Our hearts are still scarred from that," Executive Fire Chief Richard Davison said.

Davison called Goodwin a "good man respected by many" and said the Fire Department wanted to guide the Goodwin family through its tragedy.

Philadelphia Firefighters Union president Bill Gault said the department "will be grieving for a long time."

"It's not a job to us," Gault said. "It's a calling. Sometimes we pay the ultimate sacrifice."

Firefighter Andrew Godlewski suffered injuries to his hands Saturday in an attempt to save Goodwin from the fierce blaze at Jack B. Fabrics on the 700 block of South Fourth Street.

Davison said Godlewski was doing well and added that the investigation into the fire was ongoing. On Monday morning, Mayor Nutter visited the fire site. Over the weekend, he issued a statement calling Goodwin and Godlewski "heroic public servants."

Goodwin's brother James is a Philadelphia police officer and lives in the house next door. The firefighter's helmet that Goodwin wore when he was a lieutenant was placed in his brother's front windowsill Monday as a memorial.

Goodwin "was an incredible neighbor and man," Kathleen Hirl said.

Another neighbor, Linda Keyes, 66, recalled how Goodwin would walk his family's dog in the neighborhood. "He's going to be missed," she said.

A memorial tribute to Neary, Sweeney, and Goodwin will take place at noon Tuesday outside City Hall near the northeast corner.

Gatherings for Goodwin's family and friends are scheduled for Wednesday from 5-9 p.m. and Thursday from 9-10:45 a.m. at Givnish Funeral Home on Academy Road. His funeral is scheduled for noon Thursday at St. Michael's Lutheran Church.


Contact Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman at sabdur-rahman@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sabdurr.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|