Submitted by his wife
Rick Lupe was the hero of his family‚ community‚ town and the state of Arizona. His legacy as a wonderful husband and father will live on with us forever. He sadly died on June 19‚ 2003‚ after he was burned in a prescribed burn that he was doing on a small reservation called Whiteriver‚ Arizona.
Rick was a 24-year firefighter veteran. He was 43 years old. He started as a cook helping his father at camps. When Fort Apache Hotshots orginally started he was on that crew. He was the supervisor of the Fort Apache Hotshots who were known as the ‘best of the best’ in the State of Arizona. He resigned out of hotshots then went into the Southwest Area Incident Management Team as a Division Supervisor (2001-2003)‚ so he could spend time with his family. He slowly made his way up to Fuels Management Specialist Supervisor.
He was a shy‚ but a very humble person. Where there is something he disagreed with he would state his mind. He loved doing what he was doing‚ fighting fire and he would say ‘I am only doing my job.’ Everybody in the town respected him as a dedicated‚ caring‚ intelligent‚ loving father and husband. He loved to hunt with his sons during hunting season and during fire season he put in long‚ weary hours and did not complain once. When he went hunting with his boys‚ they didn’t care if they didn’t get a kill – it was just being out in the woods with his sons‚ whey they enjoyed each other’s company.
He was so dedicated to me and I loved him so much with all my heart. He left so suddenly‚ he didn’t tell my heart how I was supposed to feel. My name is Evey‚ his wife of 21 years. Our sons are: Sean 21‚ Daniel 18‚ and Brent 11. We never stop talking about him. Every day his name comes up. We do miss him a lot in our own special ways. The boys were the special gift he gave me and I am so lucky to have spent 21 years with a man that I cherished and devoted all my love and life to. There are days when I think he’s out on a fire and he should be back soon. Then reality sets in and I break down again. Five brothers and two sisters survive him who were also close to his heart.
He was 2003 Firefighter of the Year and also named Employee of the Year in 2002 and 2003. He was recognized by President George W. Bush. Rick was also considered a ‘Hero’ during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire‚ the largest fire in the state of Arizona.
The Rick Lupe Forestry Scholarship and the Rick Lupe Arizona State Fire School were established. There are several more scholarships and honors in his name. He was not a spotlight person. He always hid from publicity. Like I said‚ ‘He was only doing his job.’
We know he would be amazed at the outgoing of tributes‚ acknowledgements‚ honors. recognition and publicity he has received. We are amazed and so proud of him. He will never be forgotten. We will live on and he will always be ‘Our Hero.’