FLINT, Mich. -- An Upper Peninsula firefighter is still saving lives even after his own death.
The City of Flint Fire Department escorted an ambulance that carried the remains of Sault Ste. Marie Firefighter Michael Rader through the city and to the highway. The ambulance proceeded without the rigs as it headed to Ann Arbor.
"What he's done and what he's continuing to do in death, it's an honor to be able to do this and be able to give to the family," said Flint Fire Chief Ray Barton.
"It was a great honor that the firemen and everybody here at the hospital did, and I couldn't ask for more,” said Don Rader after watching the procession for his brother.
Rader suffered a stroke in the U.P. early Wednesday morning. His family said the local hospital could not provide the necessary care. He was then transported McLaren Flint and underwent emergency surgery. Rader died Thursday, but not without one last heroic act--organ donation.
Don Rader of Tennessee said he know firsthand the impact of organ donation. He received a heart transplant through Ann Arbor-based Gift of Life Michigan 12 years ago.
"It was hard talking to Gift of Life yesterday (and) being on this end when you're losing a great man; but understanding that as far as I know right, now, he's going to save at least four people's lives,” he said.
That is giving some comfort to Beth Walsh, the ex-wife of Michael Rader and mother of his 20-year-old son.
"I'd like to meet the people that are the recipients,” said Walsh. “That would be nice."
Rader's gift of life reflects how he lived, said Tina Borrow, Rader’s sister.
"He would do anything for anybody. And I know this is a cliché, but he would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.
Fellow Sault Ste. Marie firefighter and friend. Phil Sheppard, said Rader will not be forgotten.
"Everyone that met mike remembers Mike,” he said. “He's just that kind of person, once you meet him, you always know him. And when you think about him, you smile, because that was the kind of person he was."
Rader’s family said he born in Flint and graduated from Kearsley High School.