Peoria Fire Department Remembers Fallen Firefighter

By Mark Bullion
By WEEK Producer

January 23, 2012 Updated Jan 24, 2012 at 11:03 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- It has been almost three decades since the Peoria Fire Department lost one of its own, but those years and that sacrifice have not been forgotten.

A ceremony was held Monday at Lutheran Cemetery in Peoria honoring fallen firefighter Vernon "Butch" Gudat, who lost his life battling a fire on Main Street on January 23, 1983.

Dozens of firefighters, friends and family came out to Monday's service.

Butch's daughter, Michele Gudat, said, "It's just so heartfelt and warming to us, to Mike and I. We never imagined 29 years ago that we would be standing here year after year, and people would be standing here year after year."

She also said that in memory of her father, a scholarship fund was set up five years ago to help with education costs for children of Peoria firefighters.

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