NEW YORK -- FDNY Firefighter Timothy Klein was laid to rest Friday with a funeral in Queens, days after he died
Klein's friends, family, fellow firefighters and many others in the community came to pay their respects, CBS2's Alice Gainer reported.
Thousands gathered at St. Francis de Sales church in Belle Harbor and watched the procession make its way to the church where Klein attended school.
Inside, Klein's mother spoke about his battle as a child with a rare form of anemia and how, despite it, he played every sport and persevered.
"He was the first born of our four children and our only son," Dee Dee Klein said. "His ultimate dream job was to be a fireman. It was legit in his blood, starting with his grandfather, his father, his uncles and cousins."
The 31-year-old was remembered as "a boss's dream," a role model and a prankster.
"The Canarsie kid, Kleino, Little Timmy from Rockaway Beach, TK, and our favorite one of all, the Golden Child," said Vincent Geary, of FDNY Ladder 170.
When Klein wasn't at the firehouse, he was giving back, building ramps for those in need, among other acts of service.
"Along with his father, Pat, Tim was very passionate about the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation and gave back to this foundation whenever he could," Geary said.
Klein died after he entered a burning home in Canarsie, Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon. A resident, 21-year-old Carlos Richards, also died.
Several injured firefighters were released from the hospital just for the funeral.
"We will never forget Tim's bravery, never forget his sacrifice," Mayor Eric Adams said.
Those in attendance left the funeral to Klein's favorite song, "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)" by Dierks Bentley.
"Its title was his slogan for how he chose to live his life," Klein's mother said.
From the church, the procession made its way to St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale, Long Island.
Belle Harbor community mourning loss of firefighter Timothy Klein
Thousands lined the streets Friday in Belle Harbor, Queens, for. The grief was evident in the tight-knit community, which is no stranger to mourning.
Belle Harbor is located on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, part of New York City but far removed, in terms of how it exists as a community.
"You speak to people who are from here, and they grew up here, their children are growing up here, their grandchildren are growing up here, because of the camaraderie and love that exists in this community," resident Barbara Joseph said.
"This is a very strong community. A lot of faith. People out here support each other," resident James Bunyan said.
Many of the nearly 9,000 residents are first responders whose way of life is about giving back and stepping in to support one another through their darkest days.
Remembering a Hero: Full funeral for Timothy Klein
A mother's love
"Our family could describe Timmy as a quiet leader, a take charge sort of guy, and not one to back down from a challenge during situations here at home. But now, after hearing all of his firehouse colleagues speak about his days and night working, we now know our perceptions of Tim were not only confirmed, but just taken to the next level," said Klein's mother Dee Dee Klein.
"Truly epitomized what it means to be a New York City firefighter"
"Tim never missed a chance to help. He always stepped for family and friends, his fellow firefighters at work and outside of work, and for the community he greatly served," Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. "He committed himself fully on and off duty. He was the kind of person we should all aspire to be."
Mayor Adams pays tribute
"He was more than a firefighter, he was more than a hero. He was representative of an American family," the mayor said. "Your son just evoked something inside me. We have to love our country again. Your son gave his all for this country, and we should use him as a symbol. This is a special place, because of American families."
Klein's casket arrives
Klein's loved ones are joined by first responders and elected officials as the funeral service is about to get underway.
Community in mourning
CBS2's Elijah Westbrook is live outside the church and hears from those honoring the hero.
As he reports, it's a somber mood in the neighborhood where Klein grew up. He actually went to elementary school about a block away.
Now, there's a massive outpouring of support for the Klein family and the FDNY, who are both devastated about the loss.
Rockaway Beach Boulevard was filled with thousands who joined the solemn salute to the beloved family as they walked into the church.
"These guys can be here one day and gone the next, and it's a treasure, the sacrifice they make. Every day they go to work and they might not come home," Belle Harbor resident Tom Brown told Westbrook.
In a social media post, the family of the other fire victim, Carlos Richards, sent their heartfelt condolences and gratitude to the FDNY, especially Firefighter Klein, for their heroic efforts.
Klein was just 31 years old, and anyone who knew him would tell you he was living out his dreams.
"He impacted the life of everyone he knew in a positive way. He was such a light," family friend Kirsten McCabe said. "His soul was in his job and everyone in this community and everyone he loved."
There was a show of support even from a thankful public who didn't know Klein personally but wanted to come out to pay their respects.
"He gave back a lot to this community," said resident Richard Holahan. "He's from a family that provided a lot of service and benefits from the community, so it's a very sad time and great loss for our community."
A true hero to the finish. His friends say Klein always had a smile on his face and loved being a firefighter.
Show of support
Among those in attendance for Friday's funeral are NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, and New York Attorney General Letitia James.
CBS2's Alice Gainer also saw a group of firefighters who were also injured in the fire.
Chopper 2 over procession
Firefighter Klein's casket is transported from the funeral home to St. Francis de Sales church in Belle Harbor, Queens.
FDNY's final farewell
"The sweetest kid I ever met"
Mourners spent most of the day Thursdayin Brooklyn. They included Mayor Eric Adams, who came to show his respect to Klein's family and the FDNY as a whole, which is really hurting right now.
By all accounts, Timothy Klein exemplified what it means to be a firefighter -- not just in death, but in how he set himself apart by the way he lived.
"He's the sweetest kid I ever met. Again, he had a smile on his face 24 hours a day," FDNY Lt. Robert Kittelberger said. "I know he was very happy to be in this firehouse and to be on the fire department."
From Ladder Company 170, to the Fight for Firefighters Foundation that builds ramps and other amenities for those in need, Timmy -- as he was affectionately called -- always showed up.
"The Klein family, they set a standard for what a family should be. They're all about service," said Bo Healey, who grew up with the Klein family.
Klein comes from a family of firefighters, including his father. Service, perhaps, was in his genes.
Hundreds of mourners wrapped around the funeral home in both directions. Others gathered across the street to show their gratitude.
"I have a son about his age, and he could've been my son," Flatlands resident Jennifer Haynes said.
"I don't know him, but I feel sad for the family," another woman added.
Klein died on duty after entering a burning home Sunday afternoon in Canarsie, trying to save Carlos Richards, a 21-year-old man with autism, who was trapped inside. Richards, the light of his family's life, also died.
"We will make sure that Tim does not die, did not die in vain, as we'll learn lessons to make sure this hopefully never happens again," said FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens.
The acting commissioner of the FDNY says the department will be there for Klein's family not just today, but in the weeks, months and years to come.
How to watch
The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Church of St. Francis, 129-16 Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Belle Harbor, Queens.