Countless firefighters from Courtenay to Campbell River lined the streets and paid their respects to a retired Canadian Armed Forces fireman on Monday.
Cpl. Greg Geldart, a former firefighter with the 19 Wing in Comox, died last week after a brief battle with cancer. He was just 64 years old.
Draped in a Canadian flag, Geldart’s casket was carried in a hearse from Courtenay to Elk Falls Cemetery in Campbell River — passing streets lined with firefighters along the way.
“It just means a lot to see people appreciating him and what he did for the country and everything like that,” said Sandra Geldart, his wife of 32 years.
Geldart had spent 30 years as a firefighter with the Canadian Air Force, serving in Halifax, Germany, twice in Trenton, Ont., as well as Comox, before retiring in 2004.
He was diagnosed with throat cancer in late October and leaves behind his wife and service dog, Molly, which he needed to help him with his post-traumatic stress disorder.
“He was young and it was very sudden,” said Sandra.
“We renewed our wedding vows about six weeks ago and we just packed as much love and time and support as possible into his last few months.”
The Geldart family was just hoping for one or two fire trucks to be along the procession route, but instead, dozens came to show their support.
“It’s just the brother and sisterhood of firefighting that when somebody passes we want to honour them and this is the best way we can do it in COVID,” said Jim Lariviere, assistant fire chief with Comox Fire Rescue, who worked with Geldart for five years when they both served at 19 Wing.
Veterans Affairs Canada has agreed that Geldart’s service as a firefighter caused his cancer and death and will now support her financially.
“I really appreciate it because it gives him the honour that he deserves like anyone else,” said Sandra.