Story by CDCR staff
Photos by Rob Stewart, CDCR Television Specialist
Two CDCR firefighters’ names among 35 others were added to the California Firefighters Memorial in Sacramento recently in a solemn ceremony. Both firefighters were also military veterans.
The names of Fire Capt. Eric J. Samuelson of California State Prison, Corcoran, and Fire Capt. William Stutzman of Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility joined the nearly ,300 names of firefighters etched into the state memorial. Individuals qualify for placement on the wall if it is officially determined that their death occurred either on duty or as a result of illness or injury directly related to their job.
William “Bill” Stutzman was made to be a firefighter. He had a spirit for service and a passion to help those in need. Stutzman’s career in service began with the United States Air Force and eventually into the fire service.
He became a firefighter late in life for CDCR and promoted through the ranks to captain. According to his co-workers, Stutzman was a consummate professional and his spirit for service extended to always lending a helping hand to his colleagues.
Outside of work, he lived for his family, was an avid reader and enjoyed attending concerts with his wife. In March of 2016, he succumbed to the effects of job-related heart disease. He is survived by his wife, Donna, and their two sons, Spencer and Ariel.
Eric Jon Samuelson
Even before joining the fire service, Eric Jon Samuelson’s career was devoted to the service of others.
He served in the U.S. Army as a medic for six years and then spent a decade as a first responder for the Santa Rosa Rancheria Indian reservation in Lemoore. Intrigued with the fire service, he became a volunteer firefighter with the City of Lemoore before being hired on as a Fire Captain with the Corcoran State Prison Fire Department.
He loved riding motorcycles, spending time with his family and doing whatever he could to help others. In December of 2015, He passed away after suffering a job-related heart attack. He is survived by his wife, Maria, his sons, Eric, Mateo and Harley, his step-son Juan, his grandson, Aiden, his mother Jane, and his brother Brian.
“It was a privilege along with several other CDCR Fire staff, to honor the families and the CDCR firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said CDCR Fire Chief Steve Sjovedt. “We’ve participated in this ceremony to honor the fallen for the past several years, but this one was more personal.”
The Memorial was born in 1992 with the passage of legislation authorizing the California Firefighters’ Memorial in Capitol Park, the historic grounds of California’s State Capitol in Sacramento.
The site was formally dedicated on May 31, 1995. From its inception, the Memorial was to include three basic elements – a Memorial Wall inscribed with the names of every California firefighter who has died in the line of duty; and two statues that would immortalize these fallen heroes.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra were among those in attendance.
A procession led by a color guard and bagpipers dubbed the “sea of blue” marched to the memorial.
A crowd of several hundred watched the procession and the following ceremony. Relatives of the deceased firefighters were presented U.S. flags.