HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Firefighters and community members came together Wednesday to grieve and mourn over the loss of chaplain and firefighter Joseph Nealon, Jr.
Chaplain and firefighter Joseph Nealon, Jr. of the Newport Township Fire Department unexpectedly died Saturday while on duty. After working with several Luzerne County fire departments over the years, Nealon was someone who will never be forgotten as a large crowd waited outside of the Strish Funeral Home in Ashley Wednesday morning, honoring him and paying their respects.
“Joe was a good man. He was always front and center no matter what we needed. If someone else didn’t want to do it, Joe would do it,” Hanover Township Fire Department Chief Joe Temarantz said.
“Always there to help anybody out whenever in need. He was just a stand-up community guy. He spent most of his time helping the community, except I think when he was sleeping and eating,” Ashley Fire Department Chief Wes Saltz said.
Other community and family members who wished not to go on camera tell Eyewitness News Nealon was loved by everyone and he would always be out supporting the community.
The funeral service concluded around 11:30 before traveling to the Ashley Fire Station for a brief memorial service. The funeral procession then ended at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Hanover Township.
“He was an instrumental member of the department. Him and I kind of grew up together, as young adults in the fire service,” Saltz said.
An instrumental member leaving behind an immense amount of love and positivity throughout the community.
“He earned respect, he gave respect, and he’s going out with dignity, that’s for sure,” Temarantz said.
Officials and friends say Nealon joined the Ashley Fire Department in 1980. He was also a member of the Hanover Township Fire District.
He has had many roles over the years as a chaplain, police officer, firefighter, and even played Santa for the fire stations during the holidays.