NIAGARA FALLS — Although it’s been 20 years since her father, Glen, passed away, the pain of that loss is still evident when Elaine Bassett-Collee speaks.
“I know my dad is proud to be remembered in this special way,” Bassett-Collee said, holding back tears as she spoke about a bench being installed in her father’s memory at Heartland Forest.
Glen Bassett was a firefighter with the Niagara Falls Department for nearly 25 years. He died Feb. 13 1994 after a battle with what’s called firefighter’s cancer, a form of the disease brought on by exposure to hazardous elements members of the profession face in the course of their job.
“I was always in awe of his strength,” Bassett-Collee said as she recounted watching her father haul a large-sized lawn roller around the yard of her childhood home.
“He died when I was 24,” Bassett-Collee said. “ He only had one grandchild then. Now he has eight that he hasn’t gotten to see.”
As she speaks, the memories come flooding back.
Bassett-Collee recalled a time when she was about 10 when the family was going to replace an above-ground pool at their childhood home with an in ground model.
“The company that was going to build the pool went out of business,” Bassett-Collee said, “ The next thing I knew, there’s a group of firefighters building the pool.”
She still has occasion to use it.
“I think of him every time I swim in it,” Bassett-Collee said.
One of the reasons why Bassett-Collee chose to install the bench at Heartland Forest is because it brings a sense of peace to her and can do the same for others. She called Heartland the perfect place to “unplug” and connect with others.
“We must all take the time, away from work and electronic connectedness, to truly relate to one another for we never know when our time together will end,” Bassett-Collee said.
Glen Bassett was a platoon chief at Station 1 on Morrison Street at the time of his death.
“They had just built his office,” Bassett-Collee said. “He never got to use it.”
She urged anyone looking for a way to remember a loved one consider creating that memorial at Heartland Forest,
“We want people to know this is a worthwhile place, it is not a luxury,” Bassett-Collee said. “It’s a necessity.”
More information on the types of memorials available at the Kalar Road park can be found at www.heartlandforest.org under the donate tab.