PAW PAW, Mich. — Flowers, memorabilia, and a hand-drawn picture of fallen hero Ethan Quillen line the inside of the Paw Paw Fire Department.
The memorial has continued to grow since his death Feb. 22 with a stuffed firefighter, his marine hat, and handwritten notes from the small community and beyond.
"Firefighter Quillen, God bless you," one note read.
Quillen left the dinner table that evening to respond to a downed power line, expecting to return home shortly to his wife and young child.
“He gave the ultimate sacrifice, he left his dinner table, a 20-minute call right?" Paw Paw Fire Chief Jim DeGroff said. "Get it done go back home back to your family and eat your dinner. We do it hundreds of times a year. He didn’t make it back home.”
The original power line was handled, however further down a tree broke causing a powerline to collapse and electrocute Lieutenant Quillen, according to Michigan State Police.
The 28-year-old was a loving father, marine, and devoted firefighter. He served at the Paw Paw Fire Department since 2019.
“When Ethan became a lieutenant on engine one, his last words when he said that day were 'I won’t let you down chief,'" DeGroff said. "That thought never crossed my mind, but now I’m not going to let him down or his family down.”
Quillen's funeral and visitation will be held Saturday, March 4 in the Paw Paw High School Auditorium.
The procession will exit Paw Paw High School and go west on Red Arrow Highway, according to the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office. In the village limits, it will head south on Kalamazoo Street to Ampey Road where it will turn west then north on Gremps Street.
The procession will pause when it arrives to the fire department to honor Quillen, according to DeGroff.
After leaving the fire department, the procession will head north back over to Michigan Avenue then turn back east. It will then proceed north on Kalamazoo Street to M-43 where the procession is expected to finish.
Public visitation will begin at 10 a.m. with the ceremony officially starting at 12:30 p.m.
A presentation including a flag folding and bell ceremony will follow at around 1:40 p.m.
10:00 a.m. - Public Visitation Begins
12:30 p.m. - Ceremony Begins
1:30 p.m. - Ceremony Ends
1:40 p.m. - Honors begin outside Paw Paw High School
2:00 p.m. - Honors End
2:15 p.m. - First Procession Leaves
The public is welcome to line the procession route, in honor of Lieutenant Quillen, DeGroff said.
“He always had the smile; he was always happy with life and got along with everyone," DeGroff said. "We will never replace him.”
The fire department is thankful for the community's support through this difficult time.
Quillen will be buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Allegan.