‘Farewell Tommy’: Funeral service honors Houston fire Capt. Searcy who died from COVID-19

HOUSTON – Family and colleagues gathered in northwest Harris County to honor Capt. Tommy Searcy, an 18-year Houston Fire Department veteran who died after battling coronavirus for weeks.

Searcy, 45, died from COVID-19 complications Sept. 8 after a months-long battle with the virus.

Visitation for Searcy was held Tuesday at Champion Forest Baptist Church.

RELATED: ‘Devastating’: Firefighters mourn HFD captain after months-long battle with COVID-19

Searcy’s funeral started at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Prior to the memorial service, a processional march was held outside of the church with members of the Houston Fire Department along with family and friends of Searcy.

HFD Fire Chief Sam Peña said they are focusing on supporting the family and celebrating the impact Searcy made on others.

“The spirit of the Houston firefighters is strong and they show up every day with a sense of duty and dedication to do what they swore to do,” Peña said. “I’m very proud of them and right now we are focused on accompanying the family and helping them grieve and supporting them.”

During the funeral, loved ones shared memories and stories about Searcy, remembering him as a great firefighter and a great dad.

“He lived life to the fullest,” the speaker said. “...He made everyone better.” Searcy even told loved ones to not cry for him when he passed, but instead, he told them to wear Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, the speaker said.

Searcy and his twin brother, who is also a firefighter, loved to play pranks and were full of joy for life.

Several of his colleagues spoke and remembered Searcy as a “firedog” who loved fiercely, worked hard and played harder. One speaker said he and his brother got into trouble often and would sometimes “play the twin card” and blame each other for mischief.

Philip Grimes, Searcy’s father-in-law, presented a flag to his daughter and granddaughters. His family was also given a medal honoring Searcy and his name will be etched into a memorial wall alongside other firefighters who will be remembered forever.

Three helmets, each representing a department Searcy worked for, were presented to each of his three daughters and a flag was presented to Searcy’s twin since his parents could not be in attendance. A Texas flag was also presented to the Searcy’s older brother.

At the close of the funeral, a farewell message was given over a radio, which is the main method of communication.

“The members of the HFD regret the loss of Tommy Searcy ... You have committed your life to serving others. Capt. Searcy, you were a dedicated member within this department. Farewell Tommy."

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A procession was held in Houston on Sept. 16, 2020, to escort the casket of Houston fire Capt. Tommy Searcy before his funeral.

Searcy was the third member of the department to die from the coronavirus. Members of Searcy’s Station 67 crew and the fire union battled red tape to help him get an experimental drug in hopes of saving their colleague’s life. In the early hours of August 18, Searcy’s coworkers even escorted the drug from Houston Methodist hospital to The Woodlands hospital where Searcy was being treated in the ICU.

In July, HFD Capt. Leroy Lucio became the first member of the Houston Fire Department to die from coronavirus-related complications. He was a 29-year veteran of the department. In early August, HFD Chief Sam Peña announced that 50-year-old firefighter paramedic Jerry Pacheco had also died from coronavirus complications.

About the Authors:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.