Eric Feltyberger dedicated most of his life to the Pioneer Fire Co. in Jenkintown as a volunteer firefighter and spent his downtime listening to the Grateful Dead.
When it came to both of those dwindling, close-knit communities, Feltyberger, 43, was still relatively a kid.
His sudden death Wednesday has left his lifelong friends and firefighting colleagues in and around Jenkintown reeling from the loss of a guy who "was a part of everything" in the small Montgomery County borough.
Feltyberger, who lived a couple blocks from the firehouse on Greenwood Avenue, became a volunteer at 14. For the last decade, he was a lieutenant, according to Assistant Chief Joe Connolly.
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"He didn't volunteer for the recognition. He did it because it needed to be done, which is a unique feature for a person in today's society," Connolly said Saturday morning as he and Chief Mike Brogan prepared for Feltyberger's funeral next week.
Brogan called him "a one of a kind guy."
Feltyberger died Wednesday evening just a block from the firehouse when he fell accidentally from the third-floor balcony of a friend's apartment on Greenwood Avenue, according to Jenkintown police Chief Albert DeValentino.
He and the friend were making dinner when Feltyberger went out for a smoke and sat on a railing, DeValentino said. He somehow lost his balance and fell, the chief said.
"It's tragic," DeValentino said. "He was a really nice guy, a hardworking kid."
Mayor Ed Foley said he didn't know Feltyberger well, but knew him as a long-serving servant to the community.
"Volunteer firefighting is a lot of times a thankless job. But in doing it, he was well-known to the company and to the borough," Foley said. "This is a tragedy that wasn't meant to be."
Connolly said Feltyberger's mother and sisters visited the firehouse Friday evening and told of their wishes that in lieu of flowers, well-wishers donate to the fire company. But Connolly said Feltyberger would have also wanted donations to go to The Burn Foundation.
"That's the type of guy he was. Always giving, giving, giving," Brogan said.
Visiting hours will be 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday and 9 to 9:45 a.m. Friday at McGoldrick Funeral Home, 507 West Ave., Jenkintown. A funeral procession with full firefighter's honor guard will go from the funeral home to Grace Presbyterian Church, 444 York Rd., Jenkintown. Burial will be in Hillside Cemetery in Roslyn.