Frederick Gleissner died Dec. 3. He was 24.
A fire engine drove beneath an enormous flag, which was suspended about 50 feet in the air between two fully extended ladders. A crowd stood quietly, Tuesday, Dec. 7, dressed in black, lining the driveway leading to the front doors of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. The engine came to rest, and from there, firefighters carried into the chapel the casket containing the body of Frederick Robert Gleissner.
The Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate and volunteer Palm Coast firefighter-paramedic died in a car accident Friday, Dec. 3. He was 24.
Gleissner’s father, also named Frederick, is retired from the New York City Fire Department and has been involved in city ceremonies in the past, include the Sept. 11 memorial at Heroes Park.
Gleissner’s mother, Diane, concluded the burial Mass by addressing the congregation. She said the pain she felt when her son died was overwhelming, but that feeling is being replaced with peace.
“That is the love, not only of friends and family, but of God,” she said.
She depicted her son as a young man who, from an early age had a gift of faith. A few years ago, Gleissner wanted to get a tattoo. Diane was not a fan of the idea, and in fact, she only refer to it jokingly as an “imprint,” at the mass. But she knew she couldn’t change his mind, so she only told him: “Make sure it’s not something scary.”
In the end, he decided on a cross, with a vine to represent life.
“He said, ‘It will help me remember that Jesus died for us,’” Diane Gleissner said.
Gleissner began in 2009 as a volunteer with the Palm Coast Fire Department and was assigned to Station 24, on Palm Harbor Parkway. He recently graduated from Daytona State College, completing the Firefighter Minimum Standards course.
“He accomplished everything he set out to do to this day,” Diane said. “The things he didn’t accomplish — that’s God’s will.”
She concluded by saying, “God bless everyone. God bless my Freddie.”
In the burial Mass, the Rev. Christopher Liguori said the large crowd was a testament to how many people loved Gleissner.
A funeral is, he said, “both tragically sad and also hopeful and joyful.”
“ ... We know there is a life after this one,” Liguori said. “When we put life on earth in perspective, we know death is only a door … Look on death not with fear, but with holy expectation. Every moment of life becomes more precious with this perspective.”
Liguori exhorted the mourners: “Direct the flow of our grief to some sort of resolution … Today is an opportunity for all of us to increase our faith.”
Liguori administered the communion, prayed and waved incense over the casket. The congregation filed outside, where the firefighters expressed their sympathies and regrets. Palm Coast Fire Chief Mike Beadle presented the family with an American flag in Gleissner’s honor.
Gleissner is survived by his parents; his brother, Greg; maternal grandmother, Lucy Dolce; and fiancee Valerie Davis.