Fallen firefighter memorialized at firehouse

E-07 Plaque Ded­ic­a­tion

Of­fi­cially, Fire­fight­er Elmer Clothi­er died from the ef­fects of a heart at­tack he suffered in 1968, but folks who really knew Clothi­er blame a dif­fer­ent cause. They say he died from a broken heart.

On Ju­ly 20, Clothi­er’s re­l­at­ives, his former col­leagues and many present-day fire­fight­ers paid trib­ute to the World War II U.S. Army vet­er­an dur­ing a me­mori­al plaque ded­ic­a­tion at his old fire­house, En­gine 7, at Castor and Kens­ing­ton av­en­ues in Ju­ni­ata.

Clothi­er be­came the 94th former fire­fight­er and 235th emer­gency re­spon­der honored by the Hero Plaque Pro­gram, foun­ded by Phil­adelphia at­tor­ney James Binns.

Clothi­er was sit­ting in a car out­side En­gine 7 on Ju­ly 20, 1968, when he lost con­scious­ness. Fel­low fire­fight­ers tried to re­sus­cit­ate him but were not suc­cess­ful. Clothi­er, 48, was on duty at the time.

The death of the 21-year fire de­part­ment vet­er­an and Tor­res­dale res­id­ent fur­ther stunned a fam­ily and a com­munity already reel­ing from the murder of Clothi­er’s 16-year-old daugh­ter, Can­dice, months earli­er.

Can­dice dis­ap­peared on March 9, 1968, after leav­ing her home to meet her boy­friend. Her de­com­pos­ing body was found five weeks later, hav­ing washed up along the Ne­sham­iny Creek north of New­town, Bucks County.

Po­lice con­cluded that she had been ab­duc­ted, killed and dumped in­to the creek, al­though a spe­cif­ic cause of death was nev­er de­term­ined. No ar­rests have ever been made in the case.

In the weeks after her dis­ap­pear­ance, Elmer Clothi­er took part in the ex­haust­ive search for his miss­ing daugh­ter, along with hun­dreds of po­lice. After the girl’s dis­cov­ery, Clothi­er con­tin­ued to work the case, help­ing in­vest­ig­at­ors track down clues.

The un­solved case re­mained open for dec­ades after his death. Last sum­mer, au­thor­it­ies in Bucks County form­ally closed the in­vest­ig­a­tion, ex­plain­ing that they had sus­pec­ted sev­er­al men of the killing for years, but all had died, so they could not be brought to justice.

His wife, Evelyn, and eld­er daugh­ter, Susan, sur­vived Elmer Clothi­er, who had lived in May­fair and Tor­res­dale. Both wo­men moved to Texas after Elmer Clothi­er’s death. Evelyn passed away in Decem­ber 2007.

Elmer Clothi­er’s niece Charlynn Cail­laud and her hus­band, along with Clothi­er’s sis­ter-in-law Char­lotte Pir­mann, rep­res­en­ted the fam­ily at the plaque ded­ic­a­tion. The law firm Cozen O’Con­nor sponsored the plaque. Former Phil­adelphia Fire Com­mis­sion­er Joe Rizzo and Seni­or Part­ner Chris­toph­er Fal­lon rep­res­en­ted the firm at the ce­re­mony. Rizzo now works for the firm.

Phil­adelphia fire­fight­ers uni­on pres­id­ent Bill Gault, Fire Com­mis­sion­er Lloyd Ay­ers and Deputy Com­mis­sion­ers John Devlin and Ern­est Har­gett also as­sisted in the ce­re­mony.

Clothi­er’s plaque will re­main on dis­play per­man­ently out­side the En­gine 7 sta­tion, which also houses Lad­der 10, Med­ic 2 and Bat­talion 10, along­side that of Fire­fight­er John Crupp, who died in the line of duty in 1950.

Any­one in­ter­ested in spon­sor­ing a fu­ture Hero Plaque may con­tact James Binns at 215-275-3000. ••

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or bkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus