Marla Buschardt

Long-time GHFB member Marla Buschardt was laid to rest February 4th following a beautiful memorial service that drew hundreds of her colleagues, friends, and family members. Under cloudless skies and cool temperatures, her flag-draped casket was delivered on board an antique Mack fire engine from the church, past three fire stations near and dear to her, before a final tribute was paid at the Houston firefighter pension fund's auditorum.

Despite her tiny size, Marla had been a firefighter since shortly after she married Chuck three decades ago, but she also went on to leadership positions with the Aldine VFD and the Emergency Service District (ESD) which supported that department. As such, she was given a memorial service with full firefighter honors.

Marla and Chuck have been the backbone of fire buffing in the Houston area for a generation. Their "working warehouse" near Hobby Airport, officially known as The Lone Star Fire Museum, contains the largest and finest antique fire apparatus collection in the Houston area. Chuck is widely known as one of the most skilled apparatus restorers in the country. The two have been avid members of SPAAMFAA for years.

Marla's passing was a huge shock to all who knew her, but, as her husband said at the end of the service, "The mourning stops now. From here on, it is a celebration of her life." We will certainly miss her.

Marla Funeral
Paul Romano (L) and Joe Gay traveled from Lynnfield, MA and Athens, OH, respectively, to attend Marla's services. Both are long-time friends of the Buschardts. Paul is a past-president of SPAAMFAA, and Joe was a Houston Volunteer Firefighter before moving to Ohio years ago.

Marla Funeral
Marla's flag-draped casket is moved to the funeral coach through a line of honor of firefighters from across the country.

Marla Funeral
A procession of colleagues, friends, and family, more than a mile long, left the church to pass by three fire stations in north Houston where Marla had deep connections: Houston FD Station 74 where her husband worked for many years, Aldine VFD Station 1, and Westfield Road VFD Station 1.

Marla Funeral
Finally, Marla's casket was escorted by HFD Pipe & Drum Corps members inside the Houston firefighters' pension fund auditorium where she was given a final tribute.

Founding Member Bill Waters Dies


William K. "Bill" Waters died May 14, 2009. Bill was one of the founding members (in 1992) of GHFB and one of the most avid fire buffs Houston has ever produced. Bill had been unable to meet with his fire buff friends or attend fires for quite some time prior to his death, but his spirit lives on among the members of our club who knew him.

A native Houstonian, Bill was fond of recalling his attendance, as a teenager, at one of the city's biggest fires, the Waddell Furniture store fire. The six-story, quarter-block-sized building, loaded with furniture but unencumbered by a sprinkler system, went up in flames just before sunrise on March 22, 1938 requiring response by 30 of the HFD's then 36 fire apparatus. The building and all the furniture inside was totally destroyed. In fact, much of the structure collapsed onto a church next door. In all, sixteen buildings surrounding the store suffered damage. Bill was delivering morning newspapers in an office building a few blocks away when he heard sirens and raced toward what he would later describe as "the most spectacular fire" he had ever seen (and he said that while in his 70s).

After retiring from Gulf Oil in 1983, Bill spent many an hour as a volunteer at the Houston Fire Museum, usually on Saturdays regaling visitors with tales (many of them even true) about the fire department over the years. Bill had spent many more hours hanging around fire stations as a young man, so he spoke authoritatively.

He loved hearing the "real" stories behind the HFD and then loved retelling them. He told museum staff that the "story-behind-the-story" on the Waddell's fire was that HFD Engine 1 had been sent to check for smoke near Waddell's a few hours before the fire blossomed out. He said the crew smelled smoke but never could locate the source, so they went back to quarters. A couple of hours later the crew was sent back where they had no problem finding the fire then.

The family will receive visitors at Noon on Tuesday, May 19 at the Woodlawn Funeral Home Chapel, 1101 Antoine, Houston, TX, and the funeral will follow at 2 PM. Bill, you were a humorous, kind soul. May you rest in peace, but with at least a 3-11 every week or so.