WESTPORT — Courage, compassion and an endearing quirkiness were among the qualities of the late Westport firefighter Turk Aksoy that were honored at a memorial service on Sunday morning.
Aksoy, a 13-year veteran of the department, died Nov. 22 following a five-year battle with cancer, which was said to be a result of his work.
Despite the threat of storm, more than 150 friends and fellow firefighters came from throughout the state to Saugatuck Elementary School to remember him.
His ashes were driven up Riverside Avenue in a procession that began at Saugatuck Hose Company #4 and included many fire and emergency personnel from Westport.
“You can’t say enough about him,” said Branford Fire Department’s Capt. Mike Acquino, who worked with Aksoy in Westport for several years. “He was a super guy ... a very down-to-earth guy.”
“Turk will always be remembered by his brothers and sisters, and by his community, as a good man,” Westport Fire Chief Robert Yost said. “Turk was strong as an ox. That strength, grit and perseverance were the attributes of how he lived his life.”
“Over the last five-plus years I witnessed the fact that Turk truly was a tough man,” said Lt. Daniel Mascolo, who gave a teary eulogy, recounting how he’d been with him at the doctor’s office to hear his initial cancer diagnosis.
“The man never complained about anything,” he said, with Aksoy receiving treatment during the day, then attending to his work duties at night.
“Your father loved you and spoke of you with pride and honor,” he told Aksoy’s children, Tess and Tyson. “Thank you for lending us your father, for he is gone but never will be forgotten.”
Tess Aksoy, 15, combined laughter and poignant emotion in sharing about her father.
“He was the most stubborn, thick-headed, uncommunicative man I ever met ... but I did love him with all my heart,” she said, noting they shared a unique bond of quirkiness symbolized in part by her wearing bright red Converse sneakers to the service. “He talked to everyone. He had friends everywhere and could easily make friends.”
“We went to the fire academy together,” said Lt. Adam Hansen, of the Milford Fire Department, who remained friends with Aksoy and his family. “I loved his wife. I love his kids and it’s just a really sad day to be here.”
“I can assure you that he will never be forgotten or leave us,” Tess said, stating Turk was no doubt listening at that very moment and making fun of her. “You’ll always be with me, in my red Converse, my curly hair, my crooked nose and, most important, my head and heart. ... Thank you and I love you.”