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Community gathers to remember fallen Honolulu Firefighter Clifford Rigsbee

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Clifford M. Rigsbee (Image: Honolulu Fire Department) Clifford M. Rigsbee (Image: Honolulu Fire Department)
Image: Hawaii News Now Image: Hawaii News Now
Image: Hawaii News Now Image: Hawaii News Now
WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hundreds gathered at the Charles H. Thurston Fire Training Center Saturday to say their final goodbyes to Clifford M. Rigsbee.

"He was just a great guy, a great guy who would always help everybody he came in contact," said Honolulu Fire Captain Larry Moore.

The 63-year-old joined the Honolulu Fire Department in 1995.

Last week, during a rescue watercraft training off of Waikiki, Rigsbee was found unconscious floating in the water after being separated from a jet ski sled. He was rushed to the hospital where he died two days later. 

"Cliff was one of the good ones that worked hard, cared a lot and did so much for the community that he lived in," Honolulu Fire Battalion Chief Terry Seelig said. 

"We just had completed training together, me him and Carl, and a couple weeks later this happened. It was just a tragic accident," said Chet "the Jet" Blanton, one of Rigsbee's dearest friends and fellow triathlete. 

Outside of the fireman uniform, Rigsbee wore a different suit. Some say it was made of iron.

"Everybody knew him as an Ironman guy and did all these great things with Ironman but he would always help people," said Blanton.

Rigsbee was an internationally-ranked triathlete. He participated in 20 Hawaii Ironman World Championships and shared his passion for coaching.

"He was just a great, fun, loving guy and he loved adventures, he did a lot of different things," said Peter Bourne, another friend of Rigsbee.

The service included a pass in review by hundreds of fellow first responders who paid their last respects, followed by a procession carrying Rigsbee's ashes to Waikiki.

"We do what he have to do to serve our community," said Moore. "I would say we're not firefighters anymore, we're just public servants. People call us for anything, we show up and try to make their day better."

The family of the late Rigsbee has asked the in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the fund created in his memory. 

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