Students, Donors and Late Firefighter/Instructor, Philadelphia Fire Captain Matthew LeTourneau Honored at Foundation Dinner
(Delaware and Chester Counties, PA • October 17, 2018)—About 250 people, including Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel and many first responders, celebrated educational opportunity and community service at Delaware County Community College’s Educational Foundation Dinner last night at the Drexelbrook Catering & Special Event Center in Drexel Hill.
This year, the annual event included a posthumous recognition of Philadelphia Fire Department Captain Matthew LeTourneau, a 1995 graduate of the College, who was a beloved and well-respected emergency medical technician/cardiopulmonary resuscitation instructor. LeTourneau died on January 6 bravely fighting a house fire in North Philadelphia. Last night, the College bestowed its highest alumni honor, the Wong Moss Outstanding Alumni Award, upon the LeTourneau family in recognition of Captain LeTourneau’s selfless service.
“I want to make sure his family knows how loved and respected he was among his peers, both at the College and in the Philadelphia Fire Department,” said John Moss, whose family created the Wong Moss Outstanding Alumni Award in honor of their late mother, Barbara Wong Moss, former chair of the College’s Board of Trustees.
Luke LeTourneau, Captain LeTourneau’s brother, accepted the award on behalf of their family. “My brother, Matt, had a passion for firefighting that was unrivaled. He was always on a journey to learn and teach, to take opportunities to gain knowledge, or even just talk shop with whomever would listen. He always wanted to share and it didn’t matter who you were,” he said.
College President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black said Captain LeTourneau personified all that the College believes in—educational achievement, community service and professional accomplishment. “His death, earlier this year in the line of duty, was a devastating loss to our community, and we are honored to have Matt’s family here with us this evening as we pay tribute to his life with our highest alumni honor—the Wong Moss Outstanding Alumni Award,” Dr. Gates Black said.
Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel spoke of the selfless courage displayed by Matt on January 6, the courage of the LeTourneau family, who have developed a close relationship with the Philadelphia Fire Department, and the courage of student Bethany DeLoach, a recovering addict and one of the first recipients of a new scholarship in memory of Captain LeTourneau.
Commissioner Thiel said he first met Captain LeTourneau at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center in Sharon Hill. They were researching methods to safely combat fires; methods that later would become a model for firefighting. “Those learnings have now become a national training program that is making the rounds from coast to coast,” Commissioner Thiel said. “Matt helped inform that truly life-saving research and that life-saving work.”
To continue the legacy of Captain LeTourneau, the LeTourneau family has created a foundation and a scholarship at the College in memory of the fallen firefighter. “To carry on Matt’s legacy, we as a family have created the Captain Matt LeTourneau Memorial Foundation, with a purpose to secure the advancement of firefighters and those who wish to become instructors,” Luke LeTourneau said. “Advancing knowledge saves lives!”
Bethany DeLoach, a paramedic student at the College and one of the first recipients of the LeTourneau scholarship, spoke of how the scholarship would help her and her family. A single mother of two young girls, who works full time as an emergency medical technician with the Philadelphia Fire Department, DeLoach spoke about her journey as a recovering addict to a point in her life where she is now focused on making a life-long career out of helping others.
“Working so closely with paramedics helped a lost dream to reawaken inside of me. I am on a path to expand my knowledge in the pre-hospital medical field,” DeLoach said. “All my life, I was in the field of helping other people—waitress, CNA, home health aide, EMT—why not take the next step in education? Last year, a co-worker told me that Delaware County was starting a paramedic class. I applied and completed the necessary paperwork and clearances.” DeLoach is now on track to graduate from the College’s paramedic program next year.
Commissioner Thiel praised Bethany’s courage. “Can you imagine the type of courage that it takes to stand up here and to be that kind of honest,” Thiel said. “There’s no question that she has a bright future … I am privileged to be here with her.”
About the Delaware County Community College Educational Foundation
Each year, the Educational Foundation manages more than 150 scholarship programs and awards more than $300,000 to students. The annual Foundation Dinner provides an opportunity for the Educational Foundation’s Board of Directors, College staff and student scholars to personally thank the Foundation’s donors and sponsors for their generosity.
Photo Caption: John Moss presents the Wong Moss Outstanding Alumni Award posthumously to the family of Philadelphia Fire Captain Matthew LeTourneau, a College instructor and 1995 graduate. Pictured left to right are Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black, Luke LeTourneau (brother), Michelle LeTourneau (sister), Janice LeTourneau (mother) and John Moss.