Children First

Over the years I felt it necessary to come to the defense of Pat Patapoff’s memory. To be upfront, Pat and I didn’t always get along as we constantly had some sort of personality conflict going on between us.

It was during omy 20th class reunion celebrating graduation from high school in 1978, that I found out Pat was dead. The stories of how he died were at least ten-years old and varied widely.

So I pieced the different accounts together and have drew my own conclusion. Simply put, Pat pulled his children from their burning home in Klamath. After he pulled the children to safety, he returned to retrieve his guns, where he eventually died.

It wasn’t until recently that I found the courage to ask Pat’s daughter Krystel, what actually happened.

Krystel writes, “From what I remember, we had some friends over and I was sitting in the living room watching Pee Wee Herman. My sister and her friend were in the bedroom we shared, playing.  My friend went into the room and came back out, and within minutes my back started feeling hot. So I went in the other room and there was fire.

I told Dad and he grabbed all us kids and took us to the top of the road and told us to stay there.

Looking back, I told him I didn’t want him to go back in, but he did. He picked up the garden hose, but it had no water.  I saw him through the window, swirling around engulfed in flames, holding the guns he had went back in the house to get. They found him in the house, on the bed, holding the guns.”

For years I have refused to let anyone drag Pat’s name through the mud because he tried to retrieve the guns.  He saved four children, including both of his daughters.

This makes him special in my eyes; a true hero.  Nothing else can or should be said about a person whose last real act in life was brave, regardless of any perceived character flaws.

Krystel’s dad is a hero.  We should all be so lucky to have such a person in our lives.

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