‘He was a brother’: Pascagoula firefighter remembered for his giving spirit
Jacob Latch died Tuesday less than two weeks after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - A Pascagoula fire captain is being remembered as an excellent husband, father, and brother in red to the firefighters and the community he served.
Capt. Jacob Latch with the Pascagoula Fire Department passed away Tuesday morning less than two weeks after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He was 39.
Latch worked as a firefighter in the Flagship City for more than 16 years. His loss has been devastating to everyone who knew him, especially his firefighting family.
“It’s not easy,” said Battalion Chief Scott Andrews. “Jacob was more than just a coworker, more than just an employee here at this fire department. He was a brother. He was a standup guy.”
If there was an opportunity to help someone in need, Andrews said Latch was always the first person to step forward.
“He volunteered and headed up volunteer organizations to go to Orange Beach when they were devastated by a hurricane. He was instrumental in organizing us to participate in the Tunnel to Towers organization. Anything he could see where he could help somebody, he was in it,” said Andrews.
Latch carried that giving spirit over into the firehouse, encouraging and inspiring others to join him in his volunteer efforts.
“It wasn’t hard for Jacob to make you get a task accomplished. You wanted to do it for him because he made you believe that it was a worthy cause,” said Fire Chief Hyler Krebs.
While being a firefighter and helping others was Latch’s passion, being a husband and father was his greatest joy in life.
“He was a father of three kids and, watching him change after he had kids and become that part of a man, it really was a blessing to see as I also have three kids and it changed me,” said Krebs.
The drive Latch had for helping others and being a man his family, friends and community could rely on is the legacy he now leaves behind.
“His life doesn’t just end. It’s going to continue to impact us for years to come,” said Krebs.
Latch’s cancer diagnosis was one that caught those who knew him off guard, leaving everyone stunned at the swiftness of the disease. After several months of doctor’s visits due to back pain, Latch was diagnosed on Sept. 30 with epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, or EHE.
The cancer then began attacking his spine. Despite efforts to remove the affected area of the spine, the cancer spread to Latch’s lungs. On Sunday, he and his family learned that it had spread to his bones and had passed the point of no return.
By Monday, posts were flooding social media as fire departments, law enforcement agencies, businesses, and Coast residents began praying for Latch.
“Latch is one of the finest people you could ever meet and truly embodies what it means to be a good firefighter. He’s not only dedicated to the Pascagoula community, but to helping others as well. Latch volunteers his time as a squad member for Tunnel to Towers Biloxi to help fallen first responders and US Service Members killed in the line of duty,” reads a post from Pascagoula Fire Department.
It continues: “Our department is in shock. Words can’t describe what Jacob means to us. He’s family and so are his wife and three beautiful children.”
Several fundraisers have been set up to help the Latch family with travel expenses to Texas and back, as well as medical costs and, now, funeral costs. A Go Fund Me set up by the Tunnels to Tower Biloxi organization this week had already raised more than $56,000 of its $60,000 goal by Wednesday morning
Latch leaves behind his wife of 13 years, Kathryn “Katie” and their three young children: 12-year-old Avery, nine-year-old Olivia “Oli”, and seven-year-old Finley.
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