GRANTS PASS, Ore. –- Firefighters call it the ultimate sacrifice: losing one’s life in the line of duty. Until now, Grants Pass Fire thought no one in their department had ever done that. They were wrong.
A 50-year effort pointed them to one man. He was a firefighter lost to history. Eldon Everton was a Grants Pass firefighter for nearly 40 years, and served as fire chief for 6 years, before dying in 1964. That might have been the end of the story, if not for the efforts of his granddaughter.
Michelle Remmy teamed with Grants Pass Fire Deputy Chief Lang Johnson, and the pair did some digging. She learned her grandfather suffered a heart attack while fighting a house fire in March 1964. He was taken to the hospital, where he died a month later. At the time, no one linked Everton’s death to the firefight.
His sacrifice makes him the only Grants Pass firefighter to have died in the line of duty. Now, almost 50 years after his death, Everton will be honored by having his name put on the Oregon Fallen Firefighters Memorial, joining others who gave their lives to save others. The former chief will be honored at a ceremony next week in Salem. It’s going to take place next Thursday, September 20th.