SLINGERLANDS — Walter W. “Bill” Eck, Jr. passed away on Friday, March 19, 2021.
The former Slingerlands Fire Department Fire Chief was remembered by his crew shortly after the news of his passing circulated around town.
In a statement shared online, the fire department said, “our hearts are broken.” “Our world has been turned upside down,” the Slingerlands Fire Department shared in a statement posted that evening. “He was one of the strongest, most caring, big-hearted persons you could know.”
Slingerlands Fire Department Chief Craig Sleurs called the loss devastating and credited Eck’s lessons as the reason he is able to take the lead on Eck’s upcoming services.
“Billy was the one we looked to when we had any sort of gathering,” Sleurs said. “We would look to him and he would advise us on how to be respectful and do things the proper way.
“I thank God I was listening all those times,” Sleurs said. “I don’t know how I would do this otherwise.”
Elsmere Fire Department Chief Marc Futia called Eck a close friend of his crew. “He has been there for us in good and bad times,” said Futia. “Please keep Billy’s family in your prayers.”
His crew in Slingerlands further described him as a mentor with a remarkable sense of knowledge and love for fire service.
“Billy cared immensely for all his firehouse ‘brothers and sisters.’ And, of course, he was a devoted father and “Poppy” and was so very proud of all of his children.
“We will miss you Chief, we’ll take it from here. RIP.”
Dave Eck, Eck’s brother, said his brother’s life of service is represented by his motto, “deeds, not words.” When the brothers were among the first responders clearing the rubble after 9/11, Eck said having his brother there helped them both cope with the horrors they saw and it brought them closer.
“We spent our lives as brothers and as best friends,” Eck said. “I was fortunate enough to be living with him for the past year and a half and the memories — the breakfasts, the functions, the fishing — are the best times of my life.
“Billy had a mission to be half the man our father was, and he far surpassed his goal,” Eck said.
Relatives and friends are invited to call on Wednesday, March 24, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 35 Adams Pl., Delmar. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 25, at the church.
Face coverings will be required and social distancing and occupancy limits will be observed. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Glenmont. The family requests that flowers not be sent. Instead, those who wish may send a remembrance in his name to the Slingerlands Fire Dept. Benevolent Fund.
Sleurs added coverage is coming in from Coeymans and Guilderland to respond in case of emergency calls while the services take place.
This story is being frequently updated. Stay tuned for more information.
Kaitlin Lembo contributed to the reporting for this article.