Hello friends, family, and loved ones. Our mother and friend Linda Hetrick just lost her husband Gary, her dog Lulu, and her home of 35 years to a devastating fire.
Gary and Linda met when she was 17 years old and Gary was 21 years old. They were introduced by Linda’s brother at a gathering and began to date shortly thereafter. In fact, they were married in November 1966 after dating for just over a year. Gary and Linda would have been celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary this November. They lived in Glasgow, Montana for many years and had two children, Holly and Dustin.
In 1985 the Hetrick family moved to North Idaho. In 1987 the family bought their home in Hayden Idaho and lived there ever since. Gary worked as a salesman for Tobler’s Marine for over 3 decades and Linda owned and ran Linda’s Classic Nail salon in Hayden for many years. They both had strong ties to the community with loving friends and neighbors. Gary and Linda headed south to Florida for the winters with their little dog Lulu. Over 13 years ago, long after their kids had grown up and moved away, Lulu became the center of their attention and love. That little dog went everywhere with them. Gary would carry her around in his arms for hours and she slept with them every night.
They were getting ready to head south for the winter in October and finishing up household tasks and last trips to see family before leaving. They had big plans for the future that included traveling, camping, and seeing their family and friends all over the country. For the first time they were really getting ready to enjoy their retirement!
Tragically on the night of September 24th , their lives would forever be changed. Linda was at a leadership event in Atlanta Georgia and had called Gary to talk about the day and say goodnight. They said “I love you” and Gary took a picture of himself and Lulu in bed before they hung up. This would be the last time Linda spoke to Gary.
Later that night, someone driving through their neighborhood saw flames coming out of the back of their house and drove over to it while calling 911, and banging on the door to try and wake up Gary. He answered the door unscathed, then made a last loving and devastating decision to go back upstairs to save his little dog Lulu. Unfortunately, he never made it out of the home on his own. Firemen were able to access the home through a window, found Gary, and brought him out and rushed him to the hospital. After several hours the decision was made to send Gary to Harborview Hospital burn unit ICU via Life Flight. Holly rushed to Seattle from Portland and Linda flew from Georgia to be by his side. Gary was still recovering from open heart surgery he had in April and his lungs and heart were too weak to withstand the fire. Holly sat with her father for hours waiting for her mother Linda to arrive from Georgia. Dustin was out of the country and was able to be with them via phone throughout the day and evening. Linda, Holly, and Dustin made the devastating decision to withdraw life support the evening of September 25th . Gary was surrounded by his wife Linda, his two children and their spouses both in person and on the phone as he passed.
Gary and Linda were hard working folks who lived a normal life and were moving into their retirement. As is true of so many people, Gary didn’t have life insurance. Linda’s life forever changed that night and she lost her husband, dog, and home all in one moment. The only personal items she has left are what she packed in her suitcase for her trip to Georgia. Linda is now starting over. For the first time she will not be living with her lifelong partner and will need to rebuild her life from this tragedy.
If you can find it in your hearts to donate to the rebuilding of Linda’s life, she and her children would be eternally grateful. Warm thoughts, prayers, kind deeds, friendship, and support are greatly needed in addition to funds to rebuild. No amount of money or gesture is too small. It really does take a village and Linda could really use her village of folks to rally around her right now.
Thank you and God bless!