The body of fallen firefighter Dennis Rodeman leaves Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home headed for the Breslin Center this morning for his 10 a.m. funeral. Rodeman was killed by a hit-and-run driver last week.(Photo: Dave Wasinger/Lansing State Journal)
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4 p.m.: Burial at West Carmel Cemetery
CARMEL TWP — The processional carrying Dennis Rodeman’s casket turned into the West Carmel Cemetery, six miles west of Charlotte, just after 3 p.m.
The antique fire vehicle carrying Rodeman’s casket pulled down the cemetery’s center drive. Police and firefighters lined up behind it. Hundreds gathered around a blue canopy covering the burial plot.
Eight U.S. Marines from Rodeman's unit, the 1st Battalion 24th Marines Charlie Company, lined up to lift the casket and carry it under the canopy. Several knew him and said they volunteered to provide honors at the service.
Rodeman’s wife, Kate, his parents and sisters sat under the canopy as a passage from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 12:7, was read.
“... and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
The Marines lifted the U.S. flag off Rodeman’s casket and held it above while rifle shots rang out and a trumpet sounded “Taps.”
The flag was folded, Marines saluted and one turned, knelt before Kate and placed it in her lap. She placed her hand gently on top of it.
Rod McMillon waited at the cemetery for the processional for an hour and a half. He knew Rodeman, who played football with his nephew at Maple Valley High School, and said he wanted to honor him.
“He did give the ultimate sacrifice for others,” he said. “He was a very, very nice man. I heard the other day, ‘He would of helped you even if he didn’t like you.’ That says it all.”
2:37 p.m. Marines prepare to provide honors
CARMEL TWP – About 20 Marines from the 1st Battalion 24th Marines Charlie Company, Dennis Rodeman's unit, are preparing to provide honors during the burial service for the fallen Lansing firefighter.
For the last hour, the Marines have been practicing folding a flag in front of what will be Rodeman’s burial plot at the cemetery, just six miles west of Charlotte on Carlisle Highway.
The West Carmel Cemetery is surrounded by a simple wire fence held up by aging wood posts, their white paint almost stripped away. The graves are well cared for and flowers, American flags and mementos have been placed by many.
Near Rodeman’s burial plot, a banner is hung that reads: “Football state runner up 1997,” and nearby is another post with a Maple Valley High School football helmet.
Rodeman’s stainless steel vault has his name, date of birth and date of death written over an image of an American flag waving in the wind.
2:05 p.m. 'You just don't understand why something like this happens'
A hush fell over downtown Lansing's lunch crowd as the funeral procession for fallen Lansing firefighter Dennis Rodeman made its way down Capitol Avenue shortly after 1 p.m., on its way to the Charlotte-area cemetery where Rodeman will be laid to rest.
A hundred or more people lined the street, many with cell phones outstretched to capture the moment. A firefighter in a Lansing fire truck gave the crowd a thumbs up.
"It just struck a chord with me, I can't really say why," said Ruby Robart, who positioned herself on the Capitol lawn to await the procession.
Rodeman was struck by a hit-and-run driver last week while collecting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and later died. Robart lives near the crash site in south Lansing.
"You just don't understand why something like this happens," she said. "It just seems like such a pointless thing."
Pati Ehrke sat in a foldout chair next to Robart. Ehrke has a special place in her heart for first responders, but decided to pay her respects during the procession rather than attend the massive funeral in East Lansing.
"I'd rather come and bid a last farewell," she said.
12:30 p.m.: Final alarm, memories at Breslin service
EAST LANSING — Three rings of a bell, tolled by three firefighters, marked the last alarm for fallen Lansing firefighter Dennis Rodeman.
For firefighters, the sound of the bell marks the start of a shift, an alarm, their return to the fire house.
But today in MSU’s Breslin Center, it marked something more solemn, last alarm for Rodeman. As Firefighter Eric Weber said, it welcomed him to his final home.
“Welcome home, Rodey,” Weber said. “Welcome home.”
As thousands stood, many in uniform, the last call from Ingham County Central Dispatch was played over speakers for Rodeman, who was described as a model firefighter, loving friend and husband, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and University of Michigan fan.
“Dispatch to Firefighter Rodeman,” the dispatcher called. “Dispatch to Firefighter Rodeman. … Godspeed. Semper fi. Go Blue.”
Rodeman, 35, was a seven-year veteran of the Lansing Fire Department who started as a volunteer firefighter in Vermontville. He survived a tour of duty in Iraq with the Marines.
He married his wife, Kate Rodeman, in June and she is expecting their first child.
“One day he took note of a beautiful young woman working in the Emergency Room at Sparrow (Hospital),” the Rev. Marty Garn said during the eulogy. “And he decided that she required further investigation. And so the chase was on.”
Rodeman’s first date with his future wife was at a Meijer store, Garn said, which was no problem for him because on that trip that he knew he wanted to marry her.
Thousands gathered today for Rodeman’s funeral at MSU’s Breslin center, many wearing uniforms of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Lansing Fire Department and other fire departments. There was a section Sparrow Hospital nurses and doctors. In all, about 2,000 of the 5,000 estimated attendees were in uniform, according to Fred Kayne, Breslin Center manager.
Rodeman was killed Sept. 9 after he was struck with a pickup truck near the intersection of Cedar Street and Jolly Road while collecting donations for charity. Police say Grant Taylor, 22, of Lansing, intentionally hit Rodeman because he became angered that traffic was backed up.
Taylor faces several charges, including murder.
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero called it a sensless tragedy. At the service, he said the Lansing community is coming together to “wrap its arms around” the Rodeman family.
10:25 a.m. 'He would've been an outstanding father'
EAST LANSING -- The seven firefighters from Fort Wayne, Indiana, knotted and straightened their ties and ran a lint roller over one another's suits this morning as they arrived at the funeral of fallen Lansing Firefighter Dennis Rodeman.
Like other firefighters who came from across Michigan and from other states, they had a single purpose: brotherhood.
"We're like one big family," said Ft. Wayne Fire Capt. Chuck Komarck said. "We're all in the same common cause."
There was no safer place to be this morning than in the general vicinity of Michigan State University's Breslin Center, where Rodeman's funderal is under way. Fire trucks from departments big and small descended upon the area this morning and lined nearby roads. A seemingly endless line of first responders and military personnel made their way single file into the Breslin Center well past the funeral's 10 a.m. start time.
Rodeman, 35, died one week ago after being struck by a hit-and-run driver. He and other Lansing firefighters had been collecting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He married in June and his wife, Kate, is expecting their child in April.
U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jerome Oswald served with Rodeman. "He was an outstanding Marine, an outstanding firefighter,” Oswald said, “and he would've been an outstanding father.”
9:30 a.m. Many Lansing streets closed this afternoon
LANSING – Several Lansing streets will be closed this afternoon to accommodate memorial services for fallen Lansing firefighter Dennis Rodeman.
The funeral procession begins about noon today at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center on the campus of Michigan State University. The motorcade will travel more than 25 miles through downtown Lansing and end at a rural cemetery near Charlotte for burial. Along the Lansing portions of the route are Sparrow Hospital, where his wife, Kate, works as a trauma nurse; Fire Station No. 1, where a U.S. flag will fly from a ladder truck in tribute; Lansing City Hall and the Michigan Capitol.
Significant delays are expected along the route from noon until 3 p.m. today. Lansing officials are asking motorists to seek alternative routes this afternoon.
The list of streets with restricted or prohibited traffic during the procession include:
- Michigan Avenue westbound will be closed from Friendship Circle and Capitol Avenue. Eastbound Michigan Avenue will remain open but motorists should be prepared to stop. Michigan Avenue will also be closed outside city limits from Friendship Circle to Harrison Road in East Lansing.
- Grand Avenue will be closed north of Michigan Avenue to Shiawassee Street.
- Shiawassee Street will be closed between Grand and Capitol avenues. Anyone heading to Lansing Community College should use Shiawassee west of Cedar Street, where they will be directed north onto Grand Avenue.
- Capitol Avenue will be closed between Shiawassee and St. Joseph streets. Traffic will be restricted east and west of Capitol Avenue on all streets between Washington Square and Townsend Street.
- Allegan Street will be close between Walnut and Capitol Avenue.
Law enforcement officials will be on hand to close north and south bound traffic along the route as needed.
7:45 a.m. Procession leaves for Breslin Center
LANSING — Firefighters, police officers and a handful of civilians stood by as the body of fallen Lansing firefighter Dennis Rodeman was lifted into a classic fire truck at 7:45 a.m. today.
A procession of police and fire vehicles left Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes’ Lansing Chapel on Michigan Avenue about five minutes later, bound for Rodeman’s funeral service at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center. Doors for Rodeman’s funeral open at 8:45 am. The service begins at 10 a.m. and is expected to run until about 11:30 a.m.
A growing number of uniformed officers gathered and embraced in front of the funeral home starting at about 7 a.m. Shirley Averill positioned herself across the street. The 73-year-old lifelong Lansing resident wasn't there to gawk.
She survived a January 1994 fire that engulfed her Massachusetts Avenue home thanks to Lansing firefighters. She lost treasured family photos and three cats in the blaze, but no one was hurt. She was able to refurbish her home of now 49 years thanks to Lansing firefighters.
She wasn't about to let the day go by without honoring Rodeman.
"It's just amazing what they do," Averill said. "Nobody knows what it's like to have a fire unless you have one."
Following the service, fire trucks from across the state will be part of a procession traveling more than 25 miles to the cemetery outside Charlotte for burial. The public is welcome to pay respects along the route.
Lansing officials expect traffic delays from noon to 2 p.m. in and around downtown Lansing and urge motorists to be patient or seek alternate routes.
The funeral procession will begin at the corner of Kalamazoo Street and Harrison Road, then follow this route:
•West on Michigan Avenue to Grand Avenue
•North on Grand Avenue to Shiawassee Street
•West on Shiawassee to Capitol Avenue
•South on Capitol Avenue to St. Joseph Street
•West on St. Joseph to the Interstate 496 ramp at Pine Street
Immediate family and friends will attend the burial at West Carmel Cemetery in Carmel Township outside Charlotte; because the cemetery is small, other vehicles from the procession will be asked to use eastbound M-50 and northbound Interstate 69 to return to Lansing.