The final call
Area fire departments turnout in tribute to one of their own
“Firefighter Owen Beal Angstrom completed his tour as a firefighter and EMT in this life on Oct. 22, 2020 at 20:00 hours. Your brothers and sisters of Stratford Fire and Rescue have the watch from here.”
That was the final call that went out from the Hamilton County dispatch on Thursday afternoon when Owen Angstrom, the longtime Stratford fire chief, was laid to rest at South Marion Cemetery near Stratford.
Angstrom, 71, died from complications of COVID-19 on Oct. 22. He had served on the Stratford Fire and Rescue Department for 44 years and was the department’s chief for 18 years. He was still active with the department until he fell ill.
Due to the pandemic, a celebration of his life had to be postponed to a later date. But his friends at the fire department felt strongly that there should be a tribute
Stratford firefighters organized a special tribute for Angstrom on Thursday. Chief Dan Ostrem contacted fire departments all over Hamilton, Webster and Boone Counties and asked them to help escort the hearse to the cemetery.
“We reached out and rounded up as many fire departments and outlying agencies that we could. We asked them to bring a truck down to lead him from the funeral home to his final resting place,” Ostrem said.
The response was overwhelming. About 40 trucks took part, traveling from Boone, Vincent, Badger, Fort Dodge, Duncombe and all over Hamilton County.
Sheriff Doug Timmons led the procession from Foster Funeral Home in Webster City, down Highway 17 to Stanhope, and then to Stratford by way of Highway 175. The procession passed by the fire station and circled around past Angstrom’s home.
Timmons, also a firefighter and EMT, worked side by side with Angstrom on the Stratford department.
“Owen will be deeply missed,” Timmons said. “He’s irreplacible. He was always willing to share his knowledge and experience with others.”
“And I’m going to miss his laugh,” he said. “He had the best deep belly laugh.”
Following behind Timmons were trucks carrying members of the Stratford Department. Angstrom’s son, Alan, followed the hearse, driving his father’s red pickup truck, towing his fishing boat.
Along the route, additional trucks and agencies joined the procession. The Iowa State Patrol blocked off the Fenton Avenue so that a Boone Fire Department ladder truck could suspend an American flag at the entrance to the cemetery.
“We had a phenomenal response from the area fire departments,” Ostrem said. “People thought quite highly of Owen and wanted to show their respects. We were quite pleased with the turnout.”
Alan Angstrom, a firefighter with the Fort Dodge Fire Department, said the tribute to his father was heartwarming.
“The fire service and EMS is a brotherhood. Through times like this it truly shows. To have everybody come together and show their support for our family is just amazing,” said Alan Angstrom.
And it’s something he said his Dad would have appreciated, too.
“It’s greatly appreciated and will be remembered forever,” said Alan Angstrom.
— Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Anne Blankenship
The hearse from Foster Funeral Home carries the body of Owen Angstrom, the former Stratford firefighter who died of complications from COVID-19 last week. His fellow Stratford firefighters organized a procession of about 40 firetrucks from all over Hamilton, Webster and Boone counties to escort Angstrom to his final resting place Thursday.
Vehicles from Stratford Fire and Rescue lead the procession of fire trucks to South Marion Cemetery near Stratford where firefighter Owen Angstron was buried Thursday.