Remembering a Fallen Firefighter

By: Jessica Aspiras Email
By: Jessica Aspiras Email

"This was his rig ... yeah ... it was his rig."

It's still difficult for firefighter Russ Fries to talk about his friend and fellow firefighter Timothy "Grandpa" Sanborn.

"He was going through pre-certification classes and he was the oldest guy in the class, and with his gray hair somebody called him grandpa and his name stuck," say Fries.

Sanborn suffered a massive heart attack on Friday while working the water pumps at a house fire in Victor Township. He was 56 years old.

"I can still hear his voice because he was loud. That was the great thing about Tim. He was very boisterous with a smile on his face all the time," says Capt. Vince Towne.

Adds firefighter Jeremy Dimmick, "If you were having a bad day or something went wrong at the fire, you'd just look for him, and he was always there for you."

Sanborn joined the Clinton Area Fire and Rescue as a volunteer in 2002. He leaves behind a wife and three daughters.

"One of the things that has been talked about is to go ahead and memorialize this truck and put his name on it," says Fries.

The flags at all five fire stations will remain at half-staff for the next 30 days. For now, Sanborn's gear will remain neatly folded outside fire station one in honor of him.

"He enjoyed being a firefighter and part of our family," Fries says.

And part of the family, he will always be.

"We'll never lose him. We'll never lose "Grandpa's" presence at all," says Capt. Towne.

Visitation for firefighter Timothy "Grandpa" Sanborn is this Monday and Tuesday, June 25th and 26th. Times are between 2-4pm or 6-8pm at the Keck-Coleman Funeral Home. It's located at 1500 Waterford Parkway in St. Johns.

The funeral is scheduled for Wednesday at 11am. It will, again, take place at the Keck-Coleman Funeral Home. Following the service a procession of emergency vehicles will lead to Mount Rest Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be sent to the Clinton Area Fire and Rescue Firefighters Association at 2761 N. Business 127, St. Johns, MI 48879. The money will go towards buying fire equipment in Sanborn's memory. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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