My cousin, John Pouletsos, was laid to rest on April 3, 2018 in a manner befitting an Ex-Chief of the Terryville, New York Fire Department. Felled by an apparent heart attack last Thursday morning, his family and colleagues gathered by the hundreds to honor his life and his service to the community of Port Jefferson.
John had served the Fire Department for nearly 50 years in Companies One, Two and Three, and as Fire Chief during 1988-1989. He also served as a Commissioner. After retirement, John continued as a member of Company Five.
John was eulogized by the Terryville fire chief as a man whose gregarious laugh, jovial personality and almost 50 years of service in the Fire Department brightened the day of all who associated with him. As we met and spoke with his colleagues and citizens, we knew that he was dearly loved by them as he was by us.
John’s funeral was held with dignity and sobriety. Every possible courtesy and mark of respect was evident: the fire truck parked outside the funeral home, the honor guard at the viewing, his casket transported on the back of a fire truck, the fire and police escort through the town, the solemn honor displayed at the Terryville Fire Department. These photos depict the distinction and tribute accorded to John as a person, and to his legacy.
For John’s wife, Cheryl, and his daughter, Cara, life is now unalterably and devastatingly changed. This is Cara’s high school graduation year–a time of great anticipation and new beginnings. And a new chapter of life was opening for Cheryl and John as they launched their daughter into adulthood.
For John’s brother, Louie and sister in law, Debbie, a hole of sadness and emptiness has now opened in their immediate family circle. Louie and John were extraordinarily close–building homes one block apart from each other and seeing each other daily before Louie’s relocation to Delaware five years ago.
For my cousins and me, the shock of the first loss of our generation is overwhelming. I am speechless and cannot find the words to express my emptiness and sadness. Since the passing of all of our parents, we cousins have gathered yearly to stay close and to remember and honor our family. While we will continue this special tradition, it will be now marked with sadness.
John and I are first cousins — his mother Bertha, and my mother Catherine, were sisters. We grew up together in Hillsdale, New Jersey and have shared a lifetime of happy memories. Although John is now with our family in heaven, we will treasure the time we had with him and know that he will be waiting for us “on the other side” and will greet us with his hearty laugh and with arms of love.
John, I love you and will miss you. Till we meet again.