Firefighter remembered in native Beach Park after death in Arizona fire

July 3, 2013 (BEACH PARK, Ill.)

Anthony Rose, 23, attended Zion-Benton Township High School. He then moved to Arizona, where his family says he found his true passion: firefighting.

Rose was remembered for his beaming smile as his family paid tribute to him and all of the firefighters killed Sunday in Arizona when a wind-whipped fire killed 19 firefighters.

"His smile would brighten the room...he was always looking out for everybody," said Athena Sperry, Rose's mother. "He was more concerned about everyone else than himself."

Rose's family says that when he was 16, he moved to Arizona to live with his uncle, worked for a local fire department and then the Hotshots team.

"They were the Navy Seals of firefighting, and they had to pay the ultimate sacrifice protecting others," said Michael Sperry, Rose's father.

"I believe that was his destiny, to do that. He really, really enjoyed it. It was a part of him," said Athena Sperry.

With his career on track, his family says love walked into his life with his fiancee Tiffany. Their daughter is expected to be born October 5th.

"He was so happy to be becoming a Dad, and he loved her more than anything already," said Athena Sperry.

"There's a picture of him with the baby because he wanted a girl, with the ultrasound picture... the ear to ear grin just holding the picture. It's like one of my favorite pictures," said Michael Sperry. "I can't wait till she gets old enough so I can tell her the stories of what a hero her father was."

There is a memorial brick path only a block away from the family's home, and Anthony Rose's sister now wants to add his names to one of these bricks, as well as the other firefighters.

"My brother...he was definitely a hero -- he got his life turned around and he became the brother that I always wanted -- the one I always wanted to look up to," said Alex Sperry, Rose's brother. "He was that man all the way up to the end."

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