SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

September 22, 2012

Department supported firefighter during his last days

Editor’s note: The Salem News reported last Friday that the Fire Department fired former Lt. John O’Leary based on a city investigation that concluded he had misappropriated more than $25,000 in union charitable funds.

A report by the city cited $1,700 in withdrawals by O’Leary for the “William Hudson Fund,” named for a fire captain who died in 2005. The report stated that “neither the credit union (which handled the Hudson fund) nor Mrs. Hudson, in her sworn affidavit, has accounted for these donations.”

O’Leary’s attorney said funds were used in Capt. Hudson’s final days to build a beach in his basement and to fly him to Colorado as a “last wish.”

“The money was to go for William Hudson himself while he was alive,” the attorney said. “If Mrs. Hudson was confused and thought these were contributions made to a fund she set up ... she’d be mistaken.”

In response, Liz Hudson, the widow of Capt. Hudson, issued the following statement:

The passing of Bill Hudson was sad and tragic for both Bill’s family and friends. Bill’s love for Salem Fire Department and his brother and sister firefighters were not surpassed by anything. Firefighter families understand the sacrifices made by each man and woman on the department and the devotion shown to each other on and off duty. Each firefighter is willing to lay down their lives for not only each other, but the community at large. They are fiercely loyal not only to each other but to each other’s family

The fire department supported us during Bill’s illness and passing. I would like to express the family’s gratitude for granting Bill’s last wish. Bill loved the beach and wanted to be able to enjoy the beach. It was the middle of winter and Bill was far too ill to travel.

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