Community gathers to remember Captain Gudat

By Josh Simon

January 23, 2013 Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 11:08 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- It has been 30 years since a Peoria firefighter was killed in the line of duty. Wednesday afternoon, more 100 people attended a memorial service to remember Butch Gudat.

Gudat died after a brick wall collapsed while he was fighting a fire at the Main Street Apartment Complex on January 23, 1983.

Every year, family and friends, as well as current and former firefighters, gather at the Lutheran Cemetery for a memorial service. It's a chance for those that knew Butch Gudat to reminisce and for everyone to honor the sacrifice that he made.

"It's a test to how we're a family, how firefighters stick together and we're a tight knit family," said Peoria Fire Chief Kent Tomblin. "It's been 30 years and we still have 40-50 guys here for this memorial and we have a bunch of other guys who wish they could be here. And Butch is in their thoughts."

"Really share in the memory of him from 30 years ago and more importantly, the ability to say thank you to all the firemen all across this country who put their lives at risk each and every day," said Mike Gudat, Captain Gudat's son.

The family created a fund in Memory of Captain Gudat, which provides college scholarships to the children or grandchildren of Firefighters as well as a grant to a local fire department to promote fire safety education.

This year, the grant was presented to the Peoria Fire Department.

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