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Poignant Final Farewell for Longtime Fire Chief in Luzerne County

A horse-drawn carriage and a large American flag were part of the final tribute to a much loved and respected public servant.

Lehman Township, Luzerne County -- Pallbearers for former Lehman Township Fire Chief Harold Coolbaugh carried out an important hand-off Monday afternoon. They removed his casket from a hearse and placed the coffin in a horse drawn carriage. It happened on the grounds of Lehman Township Fire Company where the flag was lowered to half staff for a man who made a firefighting career out of putting others' needs before himself. "It was a lifelong commitment to the community, an unsung hero who would answer the call at any hour, any time of day,"  said Sen. Lisa Baker  (R) 20th District). She was neighbors with Chief Coolbaugh. Sen. Baker and other mourners took part in a procession that started on Firehouse Road and continued for a few blocks to Lehman Cemetery. "A wonderful man, a good friend that we're all going to miss," she said.

In the middle of the procession hung a large flag suspended by Sweet Valley and Kunkle Fire Company Ladder Trucks. It provided a patriotic touch to honor the likes of a man who embodied the qualities that make a person proud to call a colleague, fellow American and friend. "He was a very good man.  He was a good fire chief of Lehman Fire Company. Excellent family person," said Kunkle Fire Company Chief Jack Dodson.

Chief Coolbaugh served 25 years as Lehman Township Fire Chief before retiring. He was also its fire marshal and past president of the Back Mountain Fireman's Association. The spectacle of such a public farewell caught the attention of several neighbors who were touched by what they witnessed. "It was great to see that you know the community came together with him. He was really good so he deserved it," said Sheila Shultz of Lehman Township. Chief Dodson added, "It's a very deserved dedication after the years of service that Harold has done for the community. It's well deserved."

Chief Coolbaugh died of cancer on July 10th at the age of 74. His legacy lives on in his son, Rusty Coolbaugh, who is an assistant chief with Kunkle Fire Company.

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