Arnie was a couple years older than me in school. His girlfriend, and later, wife, Lori was a grade ahead of me, and Arnie was two years ahead of her. We went to a small school, though, so we all knew each other. However, that didn't mean the older high school students cared much for the annoying junior highers hanging around campus. And certainly none of them took much notice of me, a nerdy tall girl with glasses.
But Arnie was different. I don't claim to have been his good friend, and I technically only went to school with him for two years, though I hung around that school for four years more after I left. But I can honestly say that every interaction I ever had with him was positive. He *always* smiled and laughed, and made the others around him do the same. His joy was infectious. He made me feel like I was a friend of his.
I lost touch with Arnie & Lori after high school, like so often happens. But rest assured I never forgot him. I know he and Lori made a great life together and that Lori will have many happy memories to reflect on and share with their soon-to-be-born baby. I know his brotherhood of firefighters will make sure that his son or daughter knows what a fine firefighter and colleague Arnie was. And my hope is that this little one will always be proud of his/her daddy, who died a hero.
Much love and many prayers to the friends and family, especially to Lori and the baby. RIP Arnie. You made this world and my life a happier place.
Arnie in a picture from one of my yearbooks