Retired Franklin fire captain, 55, remembered for compassion, humor

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Retired Franklin fire captain, 55, remembered for compassion, humor

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Capt. Tony Abston of the Franklin Division of Fire died on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. FILE PHOTO

A retired Franklin fire captain is being remembered for his compassion for others as well as his sense of humor.

Fire Capt. Tony Abston, 55, died Saturday and fellow firefighters shared remembrances of him and his firefighting career that spanned more than 20 years. Abston retired about two years ago due to health issues.

Franklin Fire Chief Jonathan Westendorf said the one thing that he remembered about Abston was the compassion and care he showed with patients or victims during EMS runs.

“He really looked out for the well-being of others as he made them as comfortable as possible,” he said. “If it was an EMS run during the winter, he’d make sure there were plenty of blankets for the patients.”

He said Abston was in charge of a lot of different things at the fire department including fire inspections, as well as setting up the department’s computer assisted dispatching and record management. Abston also served 18 years as president of International Association of Firefighters Local 3742.

Westendorf said Abston was always able to use his sense of humor to cheer up a fellow firefighter, whether it was giving someone a bear hug, slapping them on the shoulder, teasing or playing a prank on someone.

“He was a captain, but he was a bit of a prankster,” Westendorf said.

Fire Lt. Mike Perry said he was a classmate of Abston’s at Carlisle High School and at the Career Technology Center. Perry said they both had an interest in firefighting as they both were in a junior firefighter program ran by the Carlisle Fire Department.

Perry said after they turned 18, they became volunteer firefighters at Carlisle and that Abston moved on to the Franklin Fire Department in 1982 and was also an emergency medical technician with the Joint Emergency Medical Services.

“He was always a positive and upbeat person,” Perry said. “He always had a joke and always liked to have fun.”

Perry also described Abston as “a first-rate firefighter.”

“It’s a shame he’s gone,” said Franklin Twp. Fire Chief Steve Bishop. “He was great to work with.”

Bishop said he worked with Abston off and on for 20 years and that he was a good firefighter. He also echoed the sentiments of Perry and Westendorf about Abston’s sense of humor.

“He was always joking around,” Bishop said. “That was Tony. He’d always be joking with you.”

Visitation for Abston will be from 1 to 4 p.m. today at the Vineyard Community Church, 4900 N. Ohio 123, in Franklin Twp.

Pastor Chuck Wolfinbarger will officiate services at the church starting at 4 p.m.

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