My Hero Husband Fireman

Jan 16, 2015 by

My Hero Husband Fireman

My Steve is a big steady guy, with a heart bigger than his size 13 shoes. He has a quick genuine smile, and he’s an expert in leaky toilets, dishwasher installation, computers, scanners and all sorts of electronic devices. Not only is Steve a walking encyclopedia on the history of World War II, he’s also a true patriot. This is a man who stands up from the couch with his hand over his heart when the National Anthem plays on TV. A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Steve is also fiercely dedicated to our local fire department, and proud of his role as a charter member and firefighter. Certified in 1973, Steve gave public service as a firefighter for 41 years. He retired last weekend. It was hard for him to let go of something that had been such a part of his life for so many years.


Steve Paterka honored as hero, Charlevoix Township Fire DepartmentHow many women are married to a hero? I am! Steve is a certified hero. He received an official commendation from the Sheriff’s department for rescuing a drunk from a burning car. He also assisted in arson investigations for the fire department. Not every woman can say that the fire department showed up at her wedding. Steve insisted they be invited, and most of them came. They presented us with a fire hydrant stuffed full of money. Being a fireman was a way of life for Steve. It was like a brotherhood, and he rose quickly in the ranks, from firefighter, to lieutenant, captain, and eventually achieving the status of Assistant Chief. Some days the fire department saw more of him than I did. Grass fires, structure fires, car fires. Steve was there for them all. After we married, I quickly grew used to Wedding Fire Hydrant 2015that squawking pager that toned him out 24/7, sometimes at the most inconvenient times. Whether it was the middle of the night, or the dead of winter with frigid temps outside, nothing stopped Steve. When the monitor went off, he would roll out of bed, jump into his clothes and off he would go. Being a fireman meant so much to him. He wept unabashedly on 911, especially for the fallen New York firefighters. Who but another firefighter would know the reality of what those true heroes must have experienced?


Steve Paterka in physical therapySteve has taught me some valuable lessons, this man I love. After a staph infection in 2004 took him down within a week, he nearly died. Staph flooded his spinal column, invading his bones and blood. Steve was dying as they wheeled him into the operating room where a team of neurosurgeons waited. Nine hours later, he woke up in the ICU, a total quadriplegic. But Steve survived, as did his quick wit, steady smile and positive attitude. It took years of rehab for him to achieve the level of recovery he has. For many months Steve depended on a wheelchair. Eventually he relearned how to walk. The doctors say he is a miracle man. I could have told them that. I never had any doubts that he would be successful, for Steve is the most positive person I’ve ever met. After his illness in 2004, he was no longer able to actively fight fires. He didn’t quit, but went on to serve in an administrative capacity, writing fire reports, plus researching and writing specs on new fire trucks and equipment. The fire department was lucky to have him, and I am blessed to have him. The fireman hero of my novel Home Fires is based on Steve. He set my heart on fire the day we met. Steve says I am the love of his life, but truly, it’s the other way around.


My hero-husband fireman. I’m not the brave or daring type, but thank goodness some people Steve as an officer of the fire departmentare. People like my Steve. Courage, compassion, and devotion to duty. Firemen have it all, 24/7. And I have one of those brave men as my very own hero for the rest of my life.


How lucky can one woman get?



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  1. Steve is a remarkable man and a true inspiration. You’re lucky to have found him, and he’s lucky to have had such a strong, steady woman by his side all these years. I hope the two of you enjoy his retirement years. At least that dang pager won’t be going off anymore! 😉

    • Kathleen Irene Paterka

      HRH Tracie, I totally agree with you about Steve. He IS remarkable and a true inspiration… to me, and everyone who knows him. (P.S. Also agree with you about the pager. It’s nice not to have to worry about that horrible high squeal toning him out… )

  2. You’re a lucky girl to be married to a true hero! You guys have been through a lot together and are lucky to have found one another. Hooray for Happy Ever After!

    • Kathleen Irene Paterka

      Jackie, I love the Happy Ever After part! We’ve been through some bumps in this journey of ours, but we’re still together and holding hands. I love this guy! Thanks for stopping by to chat.