I will miss my friend and Brother, “23”.
Five of us were out of the country last week, training the South African Fire Department – near Durban South Africa, when we got the news of our dear friends passing. I was in the middle of class when I got the text message. After calling to confirm the report and hearing that Engine 19 took the job, I immediately thought of them and prayed for their peace. I know what it’s like to work the job involving a “loved one” and he was loved. I knew that our department and others would never be the same.
I was devastated at the news and knowing that we could not be back in time to make his service; our schedule did not allow us time to grieve and the opportunities to mourn our loss were few and far between. We ended every meal with a toast to our friend and brother, but that was not enough. He deserved more and he was bigger than that.
I pinned these few words to share my own memories:
“To my Friend, Brother and Comrade…Fare Thee Well!
Fare thee well to the one who loved us and loved the most noblest of all professions.
Fare thee well to the one that knew us…to the one that knew us, sometimes, better than we knew ourselves… whose humor, character and being “lived for the job”!
Fare thee well for the constant and immeasurable lives he saved through his words and deeds…he knew so much and shared all.
I will miss my friend of 40 years. While growing up on Orient Avenue, our families met. His family owned a local business. He went to school with my sister Susan. When it was time for my oldest son, John, to get his first haircut. It was Uncle Ira that held him and consoled him in the barber’s chair, because Cheryl couldn’t watch and of course I had to hold the camera. When my son Malcolm came on the job, it was Uncle Ira who, proudly”, gave him his first badge, matching wallet and keychain. We were friends, but it wasn’t until I joined the JCFD, when I “Got On The Job” that we became brothers.
It was then the team of “Blackman & Rubin” was formed. For a short time I was the P.I.O. and caring for my ailing Mother-in-Law. I would be concerned that I might be delayed in my responses to jobs, from time to time. I shared that with my Brother Ira. Without my asking, he gave me an extra radio, scanner for her house and put the Gong Club Frequency on them for me to monitor jobs. He would give me a ” heads up” en route on the current jobs and incidents. He knew “who was who in the zoo…” He advised me on who I could trust and whom I should just leave alone.
He elevated the job and always had its best interests at heart. He had the heart of a Fire Fighter. He was a wealth of information. He just knew things and we challenged each other constantly. (Him winning all the time.) He saved so many JCFD “Jobs” with the kindest reminders.
There will never be another “FJ” (Those that know the meaning of those initials knew him best).
Fare thee well…my mustachioed, cigar smoking, FD loving, kilted Bagpipe playing, US Marine (thank you for your service), Rescue 1 Chauffeuring (Oops- another Ira Rubin story), Jeopardy Champion, Fire Historian, Quartermaster, Plant Manager, Fire Buff Extraordinaire, Dispatcher of the highest order, Scholar, Brother, Friend and Comrade…
“23”, you are already missed. “23”, our hearts ache for your passing, yet our lives were made better for our knowing you.
Fare thee well “23”….See you on the other side!
Your Brother from Another Mother… (as you last said to me)…
“CHIEF of the First Battalion, arriving on the scene, with the rest of the companies!”
FR. James Pagnotta wrote: The Jersey City Fire Department lost its “soul mate” with the Thursday morning untimely passing of Ira Rubin!
Ira was a fire buff extraordinaire, a main stay of the Jersey City Gong Club, bag piper “without portfolio,” an avid and accurate Fire Department Historian, and a friend to all.
Serving as Jersey City Fire Chaplain for the past 39 years, it was my honor and pleasure to both know and work with Ira. He was a “matzoh ball” in kilt who played more fire/police funerals in Catholic churches after the horrific 9/11 attack than people could ever imagine. An enthusiastic member of the Archdiocesan St. Florian mass committee, he traveled near and far to honor those who served and made the “supreme sacrifice”
As the Fire Department historian he forgot more fire history than some people could even imagine. He was a pleasure to work with when we established, with the assistance of the Fire Officers and Firefighters Unions, the “Wall of Honor and Eternal Flame of Bravery” at Jersey City’s Fire headquarters. He spent untold hours researching library and cemetery records to ensure all accuracy was present and proper honor was given to those who served and gave their lives.
Ira could light up one of his big cigars and entertain for hours with story after story of fires and fire fighters never missing a flame or act of bravery.
A devoted son, who attended an ailing mother with tender loving care and friend anyone could turn to for help with facts, badges, shields or needs.
Ira’s flame of life has now expired and but fire of his spirit shall live as long as the JCFD continues to serve this community.
Let us give thanks that Ira piped his tunes and tales, kept the records straight and made known the good and heroics deeds of so many.
Mazel tov Ira for a life well lived but oh too short!
REV. JAMES V. PAGNOTTA
CHAPLAIN JERSEY CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT
PASTOR, ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC CHURCH
Link to news article: Ira Rubin Remembered