The last time Kathy Malone walked up to the podium at St. Patrick’s Church in Watertown to speak, she was accompanied by her brother Boston firefighter Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr.
That was 14 years ago at their father’s funeral. Walsh stood quietly beside her then as she read the eulogy.
“He stood with me to have my back,’’ said Malone.
Today, Malone read the eulogy for her brother’s funeral. Walsh died with another firefighter, Michael Kennedy, in a Back Bay blaze last week.
Malone described Walsh, known to his family members as Eddie, as having a “terrific smile and a sense of humor,’’ though his large presense may have been intimidating to those that didn’t know him.
“He had the voice of authority long before he earned the rank of lieutenant,’’ she said.
Outside the church, more than ten thousand firefighters and first responders from across the nation gathered to mourn the loss of the fallen firefighter.
Rev. John Unni, pastor of St. Cecilia Church, which is located near the Boylston Street fire station where Walsh and Kennedy worked, delivered the homily. He spent most of the time directly addressing Walsh’s wife, Kristen, and three young children.
“All of us are gathered here in this church and the many thousands outside – we are here for you, hoping our presence and our prayers will somehow lessen the loss,’’ said Unni.
Malone said Walsh’s marriage to Kristen was strong and loving.
“She and Eddie were like bookends,’’ said Malone.
Together, they have raised “three children who will emulate their love and respect,’’ she said.
Walsh’s body was transported to the church on top of Engine 33, the fire truck that he was assigned to.
Boston knows how to honor its Bravest pic.twitter.com/xzxQMAYyBA— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) April 2, 2014
The majority of attendees remained outside during the funeral mass.
Earlier this morning, a stream of buses carrying firefighters received a police escort to the church.
Firefighters from as far as Australia were spotted in the sea of blue.
Walsh, who lived in West Roxbury, grew up in Watertown and was baptized in the same church where his funeral was held. Walsh, 43, was married and had three children, all under the age of 10. His late father and late uncle served on the Watertown Fire Department, which is located within a block of the church. Walsh will be buried next to his father.
Irish tenor Ronan Tynan sang at the funeral.
Walsh’s brother, Michael, carried the firefighter’s honorary helmet during the funeral procession.
Walsh’s job made him a part of the lives of people he didn’t even know, said Mayor Martin J. Walsh at the funeral today.
“He was a rock supporting all of our lives,’’ said Mayor Walsh. “Let us be inspired by his example.’’
Malone said that above all, he enjoyed spending time with his kids.
“You may have noticed this man has lived a full life,’’ said Malone. “He was destined to do great things, and he did.’’