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PORTAGE, Mich. — More than 1,100 people packed into St. Catherine’s in Portage Monday to remember the Mattawan volunteer firefighter who died on February 26.
Nathan Fruin, 22, suffered a heart attack as he transported gear to a crew as they fought a fire that night.
Fruin had been a volunteer with the department for five years.
How he died didn’t speak to how he lived.
“Did he have a bad heart?” Fr. Robert Creagan asked the congregation Monday. “From how he lived his life, I don’t think so.”
Fruin was a 2009 graduate of Mattawan High School, where he was the marching and concert bands’ trombone section leader.
The choir Nathan’s younger brother sings in now opened the service with an a capella version of Toto’s “Africa.”
Near the end of the service, Fruin’s cousin read a letter Fruin had written to a friend not long ago. The words had a message for the friend – and the people gathered: Tough times don’t last when you’re with the ones you love.
“It is a collaborative effort of all the people in your life you choose to surround yourself with that will help you get there,” Grace Boven read. “Lean on them. Confide in them and together you will carry each other through the storm.”
After she was finished, Boven told the congregation that she didn’t believe Fruin meant to say those words then for one person; he meant to say them Monday for everyone to hear.
Fruin will be cremated and buried at Maple Grove Cemetery in Mattawan.