Joe Haseloff loved western novels, ate everything with green chili and loved to cook, Clovis Fire Department Lt. J.D. Hileman said of his friend and fellow firefighter.
Haseloff, a 49-year-old lifelong Farwell resident, was also a farmer and all-around outdoorsman who co-workers described as generous, mature caring and steady as a rock.
The bodies of Haseloff and his 17-year-old nephew Tyler Fontenot were recovered Monday from a Texas lake where they had gone for a weekend fishing trip. The two were reported missing Saturday.
“It’s at times like this people always try to say the best they can think about somebody else — that’s not hard to do with Joe,” Hileman said.
“With Joe Haseloff, you can’t say bad about him. If you never had the opportunity to visit with Joe Haseloff, I’m sorry. You missed out.”
Fire Chief Ray Westerman described a “somber” tone as news of the 12-year veteran paramedic and firefighter’s death was sinking in Tuesday.
“It certainly was unexpected,” he said. “We had been hoping for the best. When we heard the news yesterday, it had a profound effect on us that Joe’s no longer going to be here.”
Haseloff’s contributions were countless, Westerman said, his work ethic solid and his smile will be sorely missed around Clovis fire stations.
The number of lives Haseloff saved and the times he provided comfort in his years of service to the community are difficult to quantify, Westerman said.
“No doubt Joe had an impact on a lot of people in this community that will go unnoticed outside this department. They’re not going to know who he was and what he did but we do,” he said.
Lt. Montie Powell, Haseloff’s supervisor at Fire Station 4, said the firefighter will be sorely missed by the tight-knit group. “He just was always in a good mood, always smiling, friendly to everybody,” he said.
“He made it easy for me as a supervisor. He just was very mature, always busy, always super easy to get along with.”
Hileman remembers the times they went to Haseloff’s land at the lake were he died, the way he would mentor younger firefighters, his unflappable, level-headed dedication on emergency calls, the way he’d read at least two hours before bed on duty nights — and then there was the food.
“Joe, he had a big smoker grill on a trailer. ... he would bring it down here and we would take him our turkeys and ham and he would smoke them for us so we could take them home to our families,” Westerman recalled.
And in the summer and fall, Haseloff would treat his coworkers to fresh produce from his garden, Powell said.
Then there was his cooking. “He liked to cook and we liked for him to cook,” Powell said.
Hileman said Haseloff included him in the annual family tradition of making German sausage and always ended up being the cook at whatever station he went to. At every meal, Haseloff would repeat a saying he attributed to his father.
“Whenever we’d sit down, he’d always cooked extra because he’d say, ‘you don’t know who’s going to show up for supper,’” Hileman said.
“It was a good thing we got rotated (through stations) ‘cause if I’d stayed with him, I’d be as big as a barn.”
Hileman said at the request of Haseloff’s family, firefighter honors are being arranged for presentation at the funeral services.