NAPLES, Fla. — The City of Naples Fire-Rescue Department and its community members are mourning the loss of one of their own.
Firefighter Anthony Christensen passed away Tuesday morning after battling COVID-19 for more than 30 days.
Christensen served the citizens and visitors of Naples for 22+ years and truly made a difference, receiving multiple lifesaving awards.
"Tony spent his whole life dedicated to this community," said Chief Pete DiMaria, "and really he did with a smile on his face the whole time."
Chief DiMaria remembers Tony best as a cat lover. He recalled the time Tony came to him with a request.
"He came to the office and he was asking me if we could use the city credit card to take care of the cat, it needed to go to the vet. And I told him as much as I would love to, I just don't know how to explain that to the finance department."
Undeterred, Tony still helped the cat by convincing coworkers to donate to the cause.
DiMaria says Christensen caught the virus while on the job. The illness would eventually spread to an entire shift of workers.
The chief said it is an incident that's caused the department to tighten their already strict COVID-19 protocols by mandating masks, which were optional before.
It's a practice he hopes everyone will adopt on a regular basis in honor of tony.
"I know the one thing that he would want us to take away from is that we should take care of each other," said DiMaria. "We should wear masks for each other. We should do all the right things, because that's what he did all the time and he preached that."
Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized. A GoFundMe has been created to assist Christensen's family with final expenses. You can click here to contribute.