Two brothers who died in a weekend house fire were happy, friendly children who attended Bluff Elementary School in Clinton, Iowa.
Today, a social worker and two guidance counselors will be on hand after the deaths of Tyler J. Wade, 6, and Patrick A. Molitor, 3, who perished in the late Friday night house fire that killed three generations of a single family.
Francine “Fran” Molitor and the boys’ mother, Tonya D. Molitor, 32, also died in a fire in their home at 2436 Dunham Ave., Clinton. Funeral arrangements for all four are pending at Pape Funeral Home, Clinton.
Francine Molitor’s daughter-in-law, Deb Molitor, also lived in the home and escaped unharmed, said Kay Wade, of Clinton, stepmother of Tyler. Francine’s son and Deb’s husband, Mickey Molitor, died in October from an illness.
“I saw Tyler as often as I could. It was very sporadic,” said Wade, who said she last saw Tyler at Christmastime. She and her husband, Kelly Wade, deliver the Quad-City Times, and he also works at Collis Toolholder Corp., Clinton.
They live up the road from the Molitor home, Wade said. They saw fire engines “all up and down Dunham Street” on Friday night and soon found out that Tyler and three other people had perished in the fire.
Wade heard that Tonya Molitor woke up and realized there was a fire, got Deb out safely, went back in to get the others and never came out.
In the meantime, the remaining family members are trying to manage. “We have some depression,” Wade said. “We try to remember the good times we had with Tyler and go from there,” Wade said. Her husband “is taking it pretty hard,” she said.
Deb Molitor is being assisted by the Red Cross.
“We are providing emergency needs, including lodging, clothing and food, as well as emotional support, to that individual,” said Amber Wood, executive director of the Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Three Red Cross volunteers were on the scene the night of the fire, she said. Other people who want to help can contact the Gateway chapter, which will forward offers of assistance to Deb Molitor.
Meanwhile, school administrators have developed a plan to help the students cope with the tragedy.
“We’ll have a staff meeting (today),” said Bluff Principal John Jorgensen, adding that teachers will be given “a message to give to the students in their particular classrooms.”
“We’ll give the kids an opportunity to ask questions and process this,” he said. A social worker will be on hand as well as a guidance counselor, “and we will have access to a second guidance counselor, also,” Jorgensen said.
Jorgensen said Patrick was “just a sweet, loving little guy. He was in one of our 3-year-old programs,” he said. “He loved playing with cars and trucks. He just fit in (with the other students) so very nicely.”
Tyler, Jorgensen said, “never quit smiling.” In fact, Tyler’s teacher created a Smiley Award just for Tyler. “He was a hardworking little guy who loved to participate in class,” Jorgensen said. “He was a pleaser. He was a cool little kid.
“He had so many words in him. And they just all had to come out,” Jorgensen said. “He was everybody’s best friend.”
Fran Molitor was an employee in the environmental services department at Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, according to Julie Dunn, public relations specialist for Mercy Medical Center.
Funeral arrangements for all four family members are pending at the Pape Funeral Home, Clinton.
Clinton County Medical Examiner Dr. Eric Petersen spoke with the investigator who went to the scene of the fire. “Once I make the decision for the autopsy to go to the state, they take over and go from there,” he said.
All four bodies were transported to the state medical examiner’s office in Ankeny, Iowa, where autopsies will be performed. Petersen does not know when the procedures are scheduled.
The fire remains under investigation. Firefighters said the two-story blue house had no working smoke detectors.
On Tonya Molitor’s myspace.com page, “Heinitz Productions” posted this message: “R.I.P. Tonya & to your lil boys & Mom as well :( ”