LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The icy December wind cut their faces but they betrayed no signs of discomfort, standing at attention as a coffin draped in a flag was lowered before them. This was a colleague, a friend and to some, a family member.
"When speaking about Jeff Kampschaefer, three things come to mind," Jody Craig, a battalion chief with the Okolona Fire Department, said. "He was extremely inappropriate, loved his job, and most importantly, loved his family."
Sgt. Jeff Kampschaefer died this past Wednesday, one month after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 37.
For more than two decades, Kampschaefer served the Louisville community as a firefighter, beginning his career as a volunteer with the Lake Dreamland Fire Department when he was just 16, but he was a familiar face around the firehouse long before then.
"He came to us as a young boy, 8 to 9 years old," Lake Dreamland Fire Chief Freddie George said. "He would ride his bike up to the firehouse just to hang out with the firemen."
Kampschaefer served full-time with the Okolona Fire Department and worked part-time with the Camp Taylor Fire Department. He had also served short stints with the Anchorage Fire Department and the Louisville Airport Fire Department, earning many awards for his bravery throughout his career and drawing high praise from his fellow firefighters.
"Seeing Jeff arrive on a fire scene, you knew things would get done," Craig said. "We'd make eye contact or I would give him a brief order and I knew the task would be accomplished effectively."
While being a firefighter may have been his first love, his greatest love was being a husband and a father, spending his time away from the firehouse with his family - his wife Sarah and his children Payton and Aiden.
"Jeff, here today, I can let you know - buddy, you were successful in all three things you were passionate about," George said. "You were a great firefighter, a great husband and most of all a great daddy."
"I'm certain Jeff is going to be missed by his immediate family," Okolona Fire Chief Chris Gosnell said. "I'm equally certain that Jeff is going to be missed by his fire department family and the community that he serves."
According to the Jefferson County Fire Service, Kampschaefer's death is expected to receive the Line of Duty Death designation. If he does receive the designation, Kampschaefer would be the third Jefferson County firefighter whose death from cancer officially meets the Line of Duty Death criteria since 2016, which is when the Kentucky Firefighter Presumptive Cancer Bill was signed into law.
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