LAURELDALE, Pa. - It was an emotional farewell to a dedicated public servant.
First responders came together Monday to say good-bye to one of their own, Robert "Bobby" Goda, who was shot to death at his home in Laureldale, Berks Co., last week.
Outside the Walter Christ Funeral Home in the borough, there were tears and heartbreak. Inside, Goda's family and friends passed by his casket to say their final farewell.
"We're all coming together as one, and that's what it is in the fire company community, we're all one," said Chief David Feltenberger, Central Fire Company.
Companies from across Berks paid tribute to "Bobby," whose life they said was taken far too soon.
"Bobby, he was a great guy, always had a smile and always had a joke," said Richard Boyer, a retired fire commissioner for the city of Reading.
It was an ongoing dispute that turned tragic last Tuesday. Bruce Muth, Bobby's neighbor, now faces murder charges after shooting Bobby twice on his front porch, said police.
At the center of it is Bobby's dog and best friend, Brodie. According to police, Muth snapped after he woke up to Brodie barking, and Muth stated the dog would continually go to the bathroom in his yard.
"Who it happened to and how it happened, you can't imagine it, it goes through you like knives," said Barry Yeager, president of Goodwill Fire Company.
On Monday, Bobby's casket was loaded onto an engine. Ladders supporting the American flag marked the start of a procession route from Laureldale to Exeter Township. It was an emotional sendoff for the 64-year-old who devoted his life to helping others.
Bobby started his career as a junior firefighter at age 16. He later volunteered at both Central Fire Company and Goodwill Fire Company. He was also a school crossing guard in the borough.
"He's one of those guys, he touched everybody, everybody's life," said Feltenberger.
"We're losing a good person, a friendly person. He'd give the shirt off his back," said Yeager.
Bobby's friends said he will never be forgotten, and he will forever be a part of the fire family.
Allentown, PA 18102