In September of 1959, the mission of The BackStoppers was birthed. The objective of assisting families of fallen first responders was established but was hoped to never need to be utilized. Four months later, the organization’s response to a line of duty death became a reality when Firefighter William Brogdon made the ultimate sacrifice.
January 22nd will mark 60 years since Firefighter William Brogdon died in the line of duty in a vehicle accident while responding to a call. Firefighter Brogdon served with the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District and left behind his wife, Lucille, and three young children, Karen, Joan and William.
Joan shares that Firefighter Brogdon served in World War II and upon his return home learned his brother, who was 10 years younger, had gone without toys. Firefighter Brogdon immediately bought his brother a bike, baseball bat and glove. The bat now hangs framed on the Brogdon family’s wall. “This is a man I wish I had been able to know longer, but through my research and reflections about him, I feel I know his character and his heart.”
In the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District’s 75-year history, Firefighter Brogdon’s has been the only line of duty death. Capt. Dave Dubowski of Spanish Lake wanted to connect with the Brogdon family and pay homage to Firefighter Brogdon’s life. The department conducted a ceremony and presented the family with an emblem recognizing Firefighter Brogdon. Representatives of BackStoppers attended the ceremony in show of support.
Lucille can vividly recount the events of the night Firefighter Brogdon lost his life. She recalls leaving her home at night, having a neighbor watch her children, being taken to a courthouse and hearing the news of her husband’s death. She remembers BackStoppers arriving at her home with $1,000 and asking her to let them know of her family’s future needs.
“My mother has said many times that the $1,000 provided by BackStoppers was a life-saver”, Joan shares. “I remember the annual BackStoppers Christmas party and Stan Musial was there handing out presents. The presents did not matter to me as much as having Stan the Man there”.
Firefighter William Brogdon was tragically the first of many first responders in our coverage area that gave their lives in the line of duty. Since 1959, BackStoppers has assisted over 170 families. Over the past 60 years, our assistance has grown. We now provide health insurance, education assistance and more because of the community’s dedication to our mission.
“We are honored to continue to serve the Brogdon family, and will never forget the life and sacrifice of Firefighter William Brogdon.” – Chief Ron Battelle, BackStoppers Executive Director