EDMOND — A wife who lost her husband, an Edmond firefighter, to cancer a year ago was there this week when an award in his honor was given for the first time.
The award went to a principal who lost seven of her students almost a year ago to the deadly May 20 Moore tornado when Plaza Towers Elementary School was destroyed.
The award in the name of fire Capt. John Werhun was for the traits of fortitude, determination, discipline and commitment.
Award presenters said each of those qualities were seen in Principal Amy Simpson that dreadful day and those that followed. She is the wife of Edmond firefighter Lindy Simpson.
“This was the first time that the John Werhun award was given,” Edmond Fire Chief Jake Rhoades said. “This award was formed following Captain Werhun’s passing April 27, 2013, after his five-year battle with cancer.”
Werhun, 42, was a 19-year veteran and fire captain at station No. 1. He remained on the job 90 percent of the time while he suffered with cancer, his fellow firefighters always pointed out.
In 2009, Werhun and firefighter Tim Vernon, who also had cancer, fought to secure workers’ compensation benefits that would be available to their families if they lost their lives to cancer caused by their jobs. The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the firefighters.
Vernon’s cancer is in remission and he is now retired from the fire department, Rhoades said.
Joyce Werhun, John Werhun’s widow, accepted the Firefighter Cross in recognition of her husband and his service to the community.
“John was certainly an inspiration to me and to every firefighter he’s worked with or known,” Rhoades said. “John was the epitome of the word courage.”
Courage was also demonstrated by Amy Simpson when the EF5 tornado came rolling over her school with students inside trying to hide from the monster storm.
“It was truly an honor to give this award to Amy Simpson ... for her actions during the tornado of 2013 and the traits that she displayed during that difficult event,” Rhoades said.
This was also the first formal award ceremony and banquet held by the fire department, Rhoades said.
“The awards ceremony for the Edmond Fire Department was an opportunity to recognize the outstanding work that our members do on a daily basis,” Rhoades said.
“The formality of a formal ceremony makes these awards even more special to the recipients, their families and the department.
“It is truly an honor to recognize extraordinary actions performed by our members.”