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Family, friends remember energy, dedication of Bower Hill firefighter

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Former Bower Hill volunteer firefighter Bryan Pritchard, left, died Feb. 9, less than a month after receiving a kidney and pancreas transplant. Photo submitted by Bower Hill Volunteer Fire Department
Former Bower Hill volunteer firefighter Bryan Pritchard, center, died Feb. 9, less than a month after receiving a kidney and pancreas transplant. Photo submitted by Bower Hill Volunteer Fire Department

Renal disease kept Bryan Pritchard from fighting fires in the last few years of his life, but it didn't prevent him from maintaining an active role in the Bower Hill Volunteer Fire Department.

“He came to all the meetings, (and) he came to all our training sessions,” fire Chief John Levi said. “He was here for the camaraderie of the guys, and he was here throughout the day. He was here to help with whatever needed to be done.”

Pritchard, 41, of Scott, died the morning of Feb. 9 after complications developed in the wake of his kidney and pancreas transplant in January.

The 10-year Bower Hill veteran's death came as a shock to family and friends.

“Everything was going so well,” said Melinda Pritchard, Bryan's wife of nearly five years. “It had nothing to do with the transplant — we don't know why (it happened).”

Pritchard was a diabetic and was diagnosed with renal disease in 2009. Before that, he served as a lieutenant with the fire department and could drive all the engines. Even after his diagnosis, Pritchard answered calls in the station before that became too much, Levi said.

“It was his life,” Melinda Pritchard said.

Fellow firefighters said Pritchard brought energy to the department.

“It was good to have someone with that energy around here because a lot of us are getting older,” said Kevin Trichtinger, a 38-year veteran of the department.

In the midst of his illness, the department organized fundraisers to help offset some of Pritchard's medical costs.

Even after his death, Pritchard will be honored. The Scott Board of Commissioners remembered Pritchard with a moment of silence at a meeting Feb. 12, and Levi said Pritchard will be added to the department's “Departed Brothers and Sisters” plaque.

“(He was) a real good guy, and you couldn't ask for a better friend or a better person,” Levi said. “He'll be missed — there's no doubt.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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