Hundreds come to honor Gensimore for his service

Gensimore died while setting up flares to alert drivers to crash

WARRIORS MARK — Hundreds of people, including Pennsylvania’s secretary of transportation, arrived at Warriors Mark United Methodist Church to honor Robert Gensimore, a local firefighter and PennDOT foreman who died Saturday while working to protect drivers.

“We are deeply saddened to lose a member of our PennDOT family,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said. “It is a harsh reminder of how dangerous this work is. It’s our worst nightmare.”

Richards waited at the church with a constant stream of people to pay their respects and support Gensimore’s family.

Gensimore, 45, was working Saturday along the snow-covered southbound travel lanes on I-99 in response to a crash. He was struck by an out-of-control car while setting flares to warn drivers of the crash.

“He was a wonderful man,” said Kristi Barnhart, a PennDOT employee who worked with Gensimore.

“You could always rely on him to come out anytime he was asked. He was kind and respectful. He died doing what he loved: protecting everyone else,” Barnhart said.

From a young age, Gensimore was a protector.

Allan and Pam Bright said when he was 16 years old and their daughter was 5 years old, Gensimore always watched after her on the school bus and made sure she got home safe.

“He was a very nice young man,” Pam Bright said.

And 81-year-old Sarah Frey could count on him for anything in her old age.

“He would take care of me,” Frey said, as she carefully walked to the front of the church with her cane.

Just two weeks ago at a fire department chicken dinner, Gensimore told her: “If you ever need anything, don’t be afraid to call me. I’ll be there.”

Gensimore was a member of Warriors Mark-Franklin Volunteer Fire Company for 27 years.

“He always had a smile on his face,” said EMS worker Cheri McConnell.

News of the tragedy spread statewide. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the commonwealth flag to fly at half-staff at the Capitol Complex Wednesday and at all commonwealth facilities in Blair County.

Wolf ordered the commonwealth flag to remain at half-staff until Gensimore’s interment at Franklinville Cemetery today.

A funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Warriors Mark United Methodist Church. Funeral arrangements were by Bruce E. Cox of Cox Funeral Home.

Cox was amazed by the number of people who arrived at the church so quickly Wednesday afternoon.

“I’ve never seen anything this large, this quickly. It’s amazing,” Cox said. “It says a lot for both him and his family.”