Erie firefighters and the Erie community honor fallen firefighter Willie Blakely

Local News

Erie firefighters and the Erie community honored one of their own tonight for Workers Memorial Day.

This firefighter broke the barriers as the city’s first Black firefighter.

Willie Blakely, the fallen firefighter who lost his life 39-years-ago protecting our community, granted line of duty death earlier this month.

Today however, Blakely’s firefighter team and his family celebrated his life with a wreath laying for the Workers Memorial Day.

It was an emotional day for Erie firefighters and a family honoring a member of their own. Willie Blakely was Erie’s first Black firefighter.

Blakely died in 1982. He was granted the line-of-duty death in April, almost 40 years after his death.

A ceremony at Perry Square organized by the Erie-Crawford Central Labor Council celebrated Blakely’s service.

“There is no closure unless you can have a proper funeral and this is kind of like bringing this whole circle to this conclusion,” said Juan Blakely, son of Willie Blakely.

With the help of Erie firefighters and the Erie community, Blakely’s dedication protecting and serving was finally remembered.

“Well it’s taken 39 years, but they’ve been working on it getting formally done for two years now,” said Leonard Trott, Assistant Fire Chief for the Erie Fire Department.

The wreath is put out to not only honor Blakely’s life, but also to honor those who have died in the line of work.

“Anyone that lost their life at work, we honor them here at this memorial once a year. We usually bring their families here. It’s a pretty nice event and is always good to honor anybody that has lost their life,” said Jack Lee, President of Erie-Crawford Fire Department.

This was a special honor to celebrate the memories that everyone had of Willie Blakely.

“All I ever heard were stories like everybody else. He was a good guy that did his job and worked hard.” Trott said.

Blakely’s name will join the list of names on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Colorado and in Erie’s Memorial at Perry Square.

Blakely’s son also said that he is looking forward to the history his father’s legacy will bring.

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