Nov. 15, 1953 - June 3, 2017
Timothy Joseph Fedeson served as a City of Tonawanda firefighter for 31 years, manning the pump on the engines he drove with pride and diligence.
But the 63-year-old's real passion lay far away from smoke and flames: For decades, he wrangled walleyes in Lake Erie and, later in life, spent his winters ocean fishing in the Florida Keys.
"Fish hard, play hard – that was Tim," said Joe Kramer, who befriended Mr. Fedeson on a construction site in the early 1990s.
He won the inaugural Sunset Bay Walleye Shoot-Out and was a high-finisher in several Amara-Can Walleye Classic tournaments. His biggest walleye – an 11-pounder caught in a Southtowns Walleye Tournament – is still mounted on his desk.
Mr. Fedeson died Saturday morning in the home he shared with his wife of 18 years, Lynn, and, until recently, a pet blue-and-gold macaw. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer in late March.
By all accounts, he was fast to make friends. That was partly because he was "always looking for the next laugh, the next good time," as Kramer said, but also because of his tendency to lend a hand without a second thought.
"All you had to do was ask, and he was right there to help," said Mike Young, a retired City of Tonawanda assistant fire chief.
Young served with Mr. Fedeson for about 20 years and was his shift captain for the few before he retired in 2009.
"When he was on the engine, you never had to worry," Young said, explaining that Mr. Fedeson would pump water from anywhere – a hydrant, a pool, a creek– to make sure the hoses never went dry.
Lynn attested to his dedication, too.
"If there was a fire, he was there," she said. "Off duty, it didn't matter."
She recalled one fire where her husband rescued a litter of puppies.
"It's just the guy he was," she added later. "He would do anything for anyone."
The two met in 1995, when a mutual friend from work brought her to one of his backyard parties. She is a nurse at DeGraff Memorial Hospital, where he was born on Nov. 15, 1953.
"It was kind of a tease thing," she said. "I used to say, 'I slowed down until he could catch me.' "
They got married four years after they met in Las Vegas.
The couple didn't spend time fighting. They had seen death often in their careers and knew life was short.
"I just didn't know it was going to be this short for him," Lynn said.
Mr. Fedeson graduated from Tonawanda High School in 1970. He worked at Tonawanda Coke for several years and picked up construction work on the side, which he would continue through his retirement.
He joined the fire department in 1978, following his older brother, Jay. Along with fishing, he raced hydroplanes with a boat named Bad Company. He named the fishing boat he used on Lake Erie The Fireman.
His passion for Florida fishing began after his retirement, when a friend asked him to travel there with him.
"He found the Keys, and the Keys have been his life ever since," Lynn said.
He loved the power and variety of the fish there – and he loved to eat them, too.
Lynn had planned to spend her 60th birthday with him on March 22. But he was diagnosed with cancer two days earlier, and she brought him home instead. After about two months of treatment and hospice care, he died with her by his side.
Before Saturday, he had told her he wanted to go back to Florida and throw a party.
She is planning to bring his remains there for a final visit.
"He had no regrets," she said. "He lived life."
Mr. Fedeson is survived by Lynn; his parents Margaret and Raymond; a son, Andrew Thurlow; two daughters, Kristen Rick and Katie Guercio; his brother Jay and his sister Sue. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Wattengel Funeral Home, 533 Meadow Drive, North Tonawanda.