When Boston firefighters arrived at Kristen Walsh’s home last Wednesday to delivery the devastating news that her husband, Boston Fire Lieutenant Edward Walsh, had perished in a 9-alarm blaze, Richie Paris and Ed Kelly were desperate to ease her heartbreak in any possible way.
“What can we do for you, Kristen?” asked Kelly, a Boston firefighter and president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts per The Boston Globe.
“Anything,” Richie Paris, head of Local 718 of the Boston firefighters, added. “You name it. Anything.”
As she stood in her living room trying to comprehend the reality of losing the love of her life, the father of their three children and her best friend, it was all too overwhelming for her to even contemplate. After having some time to mull it over, Kristen made a call to the Boylston Street firehouse, where her husband and Mike Kennedy, who died with him, were employed. She had one request for the firefighters from Engine 33 and Ladder 15, and that was to locate her husband’s wedding band.
The promise was made as the firefighters vowed to bring the symbolic symbol of their love back to her.
Since the band was not on Walsh’s finger after the fire, Paris and Kelly turned the firehouse upside down looking for the missing ring but to no avail.
“All the guys on 33 and 15 said they were sure Eddie had the ring on his finger when he went into that burning building with Mike Kennedy,” Paris said. “Eddie never took his wedding ring off.”
That left only one possibility – the band had slipped off Walsh’s finger during the fiery inferno.
Once they were cleared to search the shell of the building where Walsh and Kennedy perished, the mission was on and they immediately went to the site where Walsh’s fellow comrades had retrieved his body.
They searched tirelessly for hours sifting through the massive rubble and debris, but they came up empty-handed. Just as they were thinking all was lost, Patty Kenneally Donovan, a Boston veteran firefighter, made the find of a lifetime. “I’ve got it!” she joyfully exclaimed as she held up the band. After which, a big celebration of all the searchers so determined to follow through on that important promise, ensued.
A week after conveying the worse news anyone could possibly imagine, Ed Kelly and Richie Paris’ hearts were a little lighter as they were able to deliver some good news. With a family of firefighters and friends surrounding her, Chief Richard Magee Jr., presented Kristen with the ring as she sat in the first pew of the church, only a few feet from her husband’s casket.
Kristen grasped hold of the band and slipped it over her finger, as many consoling hearts looked on in awe.
Boston Firefighters Deliver Wedding Band to Comrade’s Widow