Elo Fehmer turned 100 years old Saturday. Fehmer served the City of Houston for 36 years. His son Bill followed in his footsteps and became a second generation firefighter. Friends and family from all across the country gathered in Brenham at St. Mary's Catholic Church to celebrate the life of Fehmer. A common theme of appreciation braced the church. Many were in awe of Fehmer's selfless attitude.
Fehmer said he initially made the decision to become a firefighter to provide him a stable job so he could support his family. "It gives you security; that's what I was looking for," said Fehmer. Firefighting soon turned into something he became so passionate about, that his son bill decided to follow right in his footsteps. "It was not just a profession or a career, it was a family affair," said Bill Fehmer, Elo's son. It was a family affair indeed. Bill ended up serving as a Houston firefighter for 25 years. Elo's son in law, Charles Knott, served as a Houston firefighter for 30 years.
"Well, I married his sister and he married mine," said Bill. Technically 3 generations of firefighters were there to celebrate; but the love and support exceeded beyond the blood line. Houston's Assistant Fire Chief Thomas Munoz made the trip to Brenham Saturday to give thanks for all Fehmer did for the City of Houston.
"I think it's just the love of what we do that gets us together," said Munoz. "It definitely brings that brotherhood and sisterhood together."
That very bond kept everyone together through the good times and bad.
Fehmer said when the Gulf Hotel burned down and killed 55 people in downtown Houston back in 1953, that it was one of the hardest things he ever witnessed.
"You just had to face it and go on with it," said Fehmer.
Bill said these tyoes of lessons he learned from his father helped him when he needed it the most. "When we'd go in the fires and would go into places of extreme danger, I would have the knowledge and background to keep my cool," said Bill. Bill said his father lead by example. "I believe the greatest thing he taught me was patience with your men, listening to them and being observant."
Of course, it wasn't all about hard times and tragedy. The brotherhood also brought forth many jokes and laughs. Bill said it was his father's thick German accent that made him stand out from the rest of his team.
"My dad's call number is 303 on the ladder truck but he's a German and he can't say three he says, "tree." So everyone called him tree oh tree." Fehmer was originally born here in Texas, but he gets his accent from his German family, who came by the way of Galveston.
Sharing advice for the younger generations, Fehmer said a big part of life is helping others.
"Be healthy, take care of themselves and treat everybody like they wanted to be treated themselves," said Fehmer.