Pocatello’s oldest retired firefighter dies; funeral set Thursday

March 21, 2018 GMT

Pocatello’s oldest retired firefighter died on Friday, just a few months shy of his 100th birthday.

John Stephen Farnsworth, 99, passed away at Quail Ridge Assisted Living Home in Pocatello, according to his obituary.

“He’s going to be deeply missed by everybody,” said JR Farnsworth, John’s grandson. “It’s a huge loss to our community with how many people he helped.”

John worked for the Pocatello Fire Department from 1948 to 1976.

JR was only about 5 years old when his grandpa retired, but he says his service had a big influence on his life. He grew up playing firefighter in his grandpa’s old helmet, coat and boots, and today he wears his own gear for the Chubbuck Fire Department.

“He definitely left behind a legacy,” JR said, adding that another of John’s grandsons, Steve Farnsworth, serves with the Idaho Falls Fire Department.

JR said his grandpa was a fun and happy guy with a big heart. He loved serving others, spending time with his family and traveling. And he had a passion for firefighting.

“It’s something I try to model myself — that love for what we do here,” JR said.

From the fun parts, like sliding down the pole at the fire station, to the dangerous parts, including having to enter a burning building while relying on his training and a trustworthy captain, John enjoyed being able to serve as a firefighter for 28 years.

“He enjoyed his years of service and enjoyed telling stories of the many fires that occurred during his years with the fire department,” according to his obituary. “Serving as a fireman was truly a great source of pride for him and gave him many fond memories to share and enjoy in his later years.”

Prior to his 98th birthday on July 4, 2016, John told the Journal that “being a fireman was an honor.” He also appreciated the people he served with.

“It is just like a family,” he told the Journal, adding that “it feels good to work together like a family.”

Although John had been retired for more than 40 years, he continued to go to the fire department on the weekends to eat breakfast and visit with the other firefighters during his later years.

Andy Moldenhauer, president of Pocatello Firefighters Local 187, said a new generation of firefighters got to know John as a result.

Moldenhauer described John as a tough old bird who was in fantastic shape for his age.

“He was a hero to everybody,” Moldenhauer said.

John’s funeral is set to take place at 11 a.m. Thursday at Colonial Funeral Home, 2005 S. Fourth Ave. in Pocatello, according to his obituary. His burial will take place at Mountain View Cemetery, 1520 S. Fifth Ave.

Moldenhauer said the Pocatello Fire Department will transport John’s body to the cemetery in a reserve truck.

“He wanted his last ride to be in a firetruck,” Moldenhauer said.

Blackfoot Firefighter’s Pipes and Drums will perform at his graveside, Moldenhauer said.