BILLERICA — An American flag decorated the flawless blue sky over Fox Hill Cemetery in Billerica on Saturday in honor of 39-year-old Patrick Corbett — a Billerica firefighter, Marine and a married father of four children — who died after a battle with occupational cancer.
Hundreds of people gathered for Corbett’s funeral on Saturday afternoon. Neighboring fire departments provided station coverage to allow Billerica firefighters to attend the ceremony and honor Corbett, who died with his family by his side at Massachusetts General Hospital on Tuesday.
Corbett’s casket was carried to the cemetery on Billerica Engine 4, which was draped with black bunting. Billerica Fire Capt. Matthew Battcock gently tolled a bell as the procession approached, before saluting Corbett as he passed directly under the massive American flag held in place by Wilmington Tower 1.
Those who knew Corbett describe him as quick-witted, brave, generous, and a nurturing husband and father.
“There aren’t even words to describe what a good person he was,” said Joe Keane, a fellow Billerica firefighter and Corbett’s long-time partner. “This world is going to have a hole in it for a long time with him missing.”
Corbett graduated from Billerica Memorial High School in 2000. It was there he met his future wife, Lauren Corbett, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Jessica Ranford to support the Corbett family.
“Lauren will tell you that she knew even then, that Pat was the one for her, but they remained only friends throughout high school,” Ranford wrote.
After high school, Lauren Corbett went to college, while Patrick Corbett joined the Marines. Patrick Corbett served two tours of duty during the Iraq War, attaining the rank of corporal.
During his time in the military, Ranford said Lauren and Patrick stayed in touch through letters and the occasional visit when he was on leave. The friendship blossomed into a romance, and after he served, the two married. They would have four children, Reid, Will, Faye and Niall, the last of whom was born on Nov. 4, 2018, which was Patrick Corbett’s 36th birthday.
It was during that same year, only months earlier, that Patrick Corbett learned of his cancer diagnosis, according to Ranford. He suffered from Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that occurs in the bones or the soft tissue around the bones.
“With Lauren at his side, Pat fought cancer the only way a Marine and firefighter can — with courage and determination,” Ranford wrote.
He endured countless rounds of chemotherapy, and after a year-long remission the cancer returned.
“You didn’t know he was in pain,” Keane recalls. “You didn’t know he was struggling whatsoever. If you were talking to him on the phone, you’d think he just won a million bucks. He never complained once. He was tough as nails.”
Ranford said Patrick Corbett underwent a procedure to slow the spread of the illness, which was followed by weeks of rehabilitation at a facility “where his family could only wave from outside because of COVID-19.”
“Pat continued to fight, passing the road driving test in an adapted van this summer and walking indoors with a cane,” Ranford said. “Pat fought cancer until his body couldn’t endure anymore and he passed away peacefully with Lauren at his side.”
During his more than 10-year career as a Billerica firefighter, he received the Firefighter of the Year Heroic Award. The award came after the bravery he and fellow firefighter James Harris displayed at a house fire on Pinehurst Street in 2013.
Billerica Fire Lt. James Miner detailed the incident, noting he called a mayday after experiencing a mask malfunction while inside the burning building. Corbett and Harris were able to locate Miner in the smoky structure and guide him to safety.
“Patrick was a great friend, a great family man, a great father, brother, son, uncle — everything,” Miner said. “We had a lot of good times in between all the serious stuff. I loved the kid.”
Billerica resident and state Rep. Marc Lombardo described Patrick Corbett as a close friends of about 25 years. The day of his death, the Massachusetts House of Representatives held a moment of silence in honor of his passing.
— Marc Lombardo (@MarcTLombardo) November 16, 2021
“Pat was loved by so many,” Lombardo said. “He was funny, smart, and caring. He was an amazing father, devoted husband and bravely served his country as a Marine and his community as a firefighter. Patrick will be missed everyday.”
At the end of Saturday’s service, Billerica Fire Department Chaplain John Seiders read the Firefighters Prayer to the hundreds of family and loved ones who gathered around him.
“I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me, to guard my every neighbor and to protect his property,” Seiders said, reading the final lines of the prayer. “And if according to my fate, I am to lose my life, please bless with your protecting hand my children and my wife.”
Marine Phil Keeku — a close friend of Patrick Corbett — closed the funeral by leading a flag-folding ceremony. Keeku then presented the flag to Lauren Corbett before the two embraced.
Those who would like to support the Corbett family can do so by going to searching “Corbett family by Jessica Ranford” on GoFundMe.
Additional donations for the family may be sent to, “The Patrick Corbett Fund,” c/o The Billerica Municipal Employees Credit Union, 365 Boston Road, No. 107, Billerica, Ma. 01821.
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis