Posted: Jul 3, 2013 9:07 PM by MTN News
A memorial account has been established at Summit National Bank in Ekalaka for Dustin DeFord. DeFord was one of the 19 firefighters who died while battling an Arizona wildfire. Dustin is being remembered as a light-hearted man of faith.
You can send your contribution to:
Dustin DeFord Memorial
Summit National Bank
Ekalaka MT 59324
If you would like information on the memorial fund contact Michael J. Quade at 406-775-8724.
Stevenson Funeral Home in Ekalaka released DeFord's obituary today:
Dustin James DeFord, 24, of Prescott AZ, formerly of Ekalaka MT, died June 30th, 2013 while fighting fire with the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, on the Yarnell fire near Prescott, AZ. Eighteen other firefighters lost their lives in the same incident. The entire Nation mourns the loss of these brave men.
Dustin was born December 13, 1988 in Baltimore, Maryland to Steve and Celeste (Crago) DeFord. Dustin joined brothers Brandon, Darren, Jonathan, and Ryan. As time passed Kenton, Stephen, Rebecca, Nathaniel, and Heidi came along to complete the family. The family moved to Columbus, MT August 1st 1990, and later to Ekalaka, MT October 30, 1996. Like his siblings, Dustin was homeschooled through elementary and high school, graduating in 2007. He then attended Cornerstone Bible Institute in Hot Springs, SD, graduating in 2010. Dustin decisively put his trust in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior as a young boy. As he grew to maturity his life demonstrated a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. In 2011, he took a short term mission trip to Northern Alberta, Canada for three months. Through college and after, Dustin worked for the Carter County fire and mitigation crew here in Ekalaka, and got a lot of firefighting time in for the state of Montana. Dustin's ambition was to be a Hot Shot firefighter, so he was thrilled when he was accepted this spring with the Granite Mountain Hot Shots.
Dustin was the "life of the party" at any gathering of friends or family, keeping everyone in stitches. He loved entertaining with his goofy humor, hunting, spotlighting, espresso coffee, noise of any kind, social life and life in general. He could be seen reading his Bible every morning, and was not ashamed at all of his faith.
Amazingly Dustin was preceded in death by no near kin. He is survived by his parents, Steve and Celeste DeFord; seven brothers, SSgt Brandon DeFord, Jonathan and Rachel (Anderson) DeFord, Darren and Becky (King) DeFord, Ryan DeFord, Kenton DeFord, Stephen DeFord, and Nathaniel DeFord; two sisters, Rebecca DeFord and Heidi DeFord; one nephew, Tucker DeFord; three nieces, Sage DeFord, April DeFord, and Samantha DeFord; grandparents, Lyle and Emily DeFord and Bill and Flo Crago; and too many aunts, uncles, and cousins to list.
From Tuesday, July 2 on MTN:
Dustin DeFord was known as a bit of a goof, who was also a man of faith who shared the gospel with those he worked with. He was always joking around with friends and family, lifting people up and keeping the mood light.
DeFord's family says his passion for firefighting was something he grew into. His father Steven, who is a local pastor in Ekalaka also volunteered as a firefighter - and many of the conversations among the family with nine children revolved around firefighting and hunting.
Dustin's oldest brother joined the Marines, while another three work as firefighters.
Dustin himself aimed to join the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew in 2012, and when that didn't pan out, DeFord returned to Montana, assisting in fighting the devastating fires in the Treasure State.
Then in January of 2013, DeFord found himself with another chance to join the hotshot crew. He was in better shape this time around, and alongside 18 others, he was considered elite.
His mother Celeste says it was his faith that drove him, adding that regardless of his fate in dangerous situations, Dustin, and his family took comfort in God's plan.
DeFord died Sunday in Yarnell, Arizona not only doing what he loved, but speaking about his faith, continuously reaching out to others.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock released a statement on Tuesday morning, calling for Montanans to keep DeFord and his family in their thoughts.
"All Montanans hold the loved ones of these fallen heroes - especially the family of Dustin Deford of Ekalaka, Montana - in our thoughts and prayers, as we are reminded of the sacrifices first responders make every single day to protect our families, neighbors and property. The sheer bravery these firefighters have shown our country will not be forgotten."