7 moments we'll remember from Capt. 'Iron Bill's funeral

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Thursday, March 16, 2017
Memorable moments from Capt. 'Iron Bill' Dowling's funeral
At times somber and other times bittersweet, the funeral for Houston Fire Capt. 'Iron Bill' Dowling was fit for a hero.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- At times somber and other times bittersweet, the funeral for Houston Fire Capt. 'Iron Bill' Dowling was fit for a hero.

HFD Sr. Captain Michael Mire said Wednesday's memorial service at Houston Baptist University was "a celebration" of Dowling, who he called a "brave soul."

In all, seven moments will forever stand out as the most memorable:

WATCH: Wife of 'Iron Bill' speaks

Wife of Capt. Bill Dowling, Jacki, speaks at memorial service

'Iron Bill' speaks from beyond the grave

Jacki Dowling exhibited strength and courage at the memorial. Iron Bill's wife said she's not the best public speaker, but her message of love and hope is one that will surely reverberate throughout the community.

She described the "whirlwind" of fear and doubt she felt when her family nearly lost Bill during the deadly Southwest Inn fire in May 2013.

But she soon discovered a prayer he had written, one that would foreshadow his legacy and the next three years of his life.

"Please use me to lead others to You," Jacki read. "Right then, I knew why Bill was chosen. He would not have the impact he's had without any other way."

Jacki said she would honor her husband's legacy by delivering this message: "If you don't know Jesus, please take the time to get to know him. His love goes beyond anything the world can offer."

Iron Bill's wife ended saying, "Thank you for giving me three more years to love you, kiss you...I feel so lost without you."

WATCH: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner addresses memorial

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner touches on the relationship between Capt. 'Iron Bill' Dowling and his wife Jackie

What Jacki Dowling told the mayor in private

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner revealed something you may not have known: The mother of Iron Bill's wife didn't approve of him at first.

"She told me at first that she didn't like Capt. Dowling, didn't like his tattoos, but over a period of time he grew on her," Turner said. "In the wee hours of the morning, Capt. Dowling would be reading the word, the good book, the Bible, and over a period of time, she saw even behind those tattoos was a very special person."

The mayor said Dowling's favorite scripture was Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Turner presented their son Forrest with a flag on behalf of the City of Houston, saying it should serve "as a reminder every time you look at it, that you'd see a very very grateful city."

WATCH: Son of 'Iron Bill' speaks at memorial

Capt. Dowling's son speaks at memorial service

The 'Iron Bill' we didn't see

The family presented a collection of personal photos that immediately brought some to tears in the audience. Alongside the words of MercyMe's 'I Could Only Imagine,' we got to see a glimpse of the man some have called husband, father, friend and hero.

Sadly, because of technical difficulties, we couldn't see the entire presentation, but we didn't have to. 'Iron Bill' was clearly a lover of life, a lover of family, and someone who put service above self.

WATCH: HFD chaplain offers prayer for Dowling family

HFD Chaplain Garry Blackmon offers prayer

"Father, you never miss a hurt"

HFD Chaplain Garry Blackmon has a penchant for prayers that hit you right in the heartstrings, and today was no exception.

Blackmon touched on a very real moment and reality that will come for the family, when the newscasts have ended and the memorial is all but a distant memory: the Dowling family will still need our prayers.

"When the lights are off, we pray she would crawl into your bosom and rest in your peace," Blackmon prayed. "Every tear has a name, father you never miss a hurt."

WATCH: Marine Color Guard presents the flag to Dowling's family

Marines present flag to Dowling family

A casket fit for 'Iron Bill'

When the United States Marine Corps Color Guard removed the stars and stripes during the flag presentation, a bright red casket adorn with the words 'Iron Bill' appeared. The casket had the HFD and other station insignias on top.

It's a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his career to serving the city.

Fire Station 68 address

'Iron Bill' had a lot of nicknames, we discovered, while we also learned a more widely known detail: The men who served with him have a lot of heart. There wasn't a dry eye in the house as the entire company lined up to hug the family.

The final ceremony

Dowling's memorial service concluded with the HFD Honor Guard's alarm bell ceremony, marking the end of the captain's service. This is always a moving moment at firefighter funerals. The ceremony is followed by the familiar sounds of the massed pipes and drums playing "Amazing Grace."

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