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‘He was the light of our family’: Worcester officer who drowned remembered at funeral for his kindness

Pallbearers removed the casket from a horse drawn carriage during a funeral service for Worcester police Officer Enmanuel  "Manny" Familia at St. John’s Catholic Church in Worcester on Thursday.
Pallbearers removed the casket from a horse drawn carriage during a funeral service for Worcester police Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia at St. John’s Catholic Church in Worcester on Thursday.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

WORCESTER — Enmanuel “Manny” Familia was one of a kind, a man of “incredible passion, kindness, and a fierce personality,” his brother told mourners at his funeral Thursday.

“He was the light of our family,” Elvin Familia said in his eulogy for the Worcester police officer, who drowned last week while trying to rescue a teenager in distress in a local pond.

Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia died on Friday.
Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia died on Friday.Worcester Police

Enmanuel Familia, 38, and Troy Love, 14, died last Friday after being pulled from the pond. They had been underwater for several minutes.

In a homily, Father Diego Buriticá held up Familia as an example of selfless service to others and hailed his sacrifice as a “powerful lesson.”

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”He didn’t think about the consequences of jumping into that lake,” Buriticá said. “He just did it.”

Familia leaves his wife of more than two decades, Jennifer, and their two children, Jayla, 17, and Jovan, 13. An online fund-raiser for the family has raised more than $136,000.

In his eulogy, Elvin Familia spoke directly to Jayla and Jovan, telling them they were their father’s “most precious possession.”

“Every time he spoke of you, his eyes lit up,” Familia said. “I know today doesn’t make any sense, and probably never will, but one thing you can be for sure is that your dad loved the two of you more than life itself. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for the two of you.”

Family members cover the casket of Worcester police Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia during a funeral Mass at St. John's Catholic Church.
Family members cover the casket of Worcester police Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia during a funeral Mass at St. John's Catholic Church.Ashley Green/Associated Press

Enmanuel Familia, a native of the Dominican Republic who grew up in Worcester, had worked for the Worcester Police Department for five years, including as a member of the tactical patrol force and crisis intervention team. He also served as a crisis negotiator and recruitment officer.

“Manny loved being a police officer,” Elvin Familia said. “He took great pride in serving this community.”

Enmanuel Familia had worked at police departments in Oakham, Quinsigamond Community College, and Clark University.

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He graduated from Doherty Memorial High School in 2001 and attended Quinsigamond Community College. He was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College, according to his obituary.

In a lighthearted moment, Elvin Familia recalled his brother’s love of manicures and pedicures.

“This dude was the prettiest tough guy you ever come across,” he said to laughter.

Mourners waited for the procession before a funeral service for Worcester police Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia.
Mourners waited for the procession before a funeral service for Worcester police Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Before the service, which was in English and Spanish, a horse-drawn carriage carried Familia’s casket through the streets past hundreds of law enforcement officers from across New England.

The carriage was part of a long procession from Mercandante Funeral Home to St. John’s Catholic Church, which included a color guard, a motorcycle brigade, five white limousines, and Familia’s police cruiser, draped with black bunting.

“This is something that only Manny could do — put on a show,” Familia’s brother Eric said to quiet laughter.

Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito attended the funeral, which included readings from Familia’s sister, Jessica Familia, and his mother-in-law, María Almendarez.

After the service, hundreds of officers again stood at attention as the casket was taken from the church to a hearse, as bagpipes played a mournful rendition of Amazing Grace. Another procession accompanied the casket to St. John’s Cemetery, where the family held a private burial.

Worcester police officers saluted during a funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel  "Manny" Familia.
Worcester police officers saluted during a funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Funeral arrangements for Love, a teenager from Virginia who was on vacation with his mother and siblings, have not been announced.

Love, who was in the eighth grade, had “a huge heart” and loved baseball and the video game Fortnite, his mother said last week. Familia was a hero, she said, for trying to save him.

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In his eulogy, Elvin Familia told the Love family that “we feel your pain and share your emptiness.”

“Our family is here to support you, continue to heal together, as we’ve all lost a big part of our family,” he said.

In the week since their deaths, Familia and Love have been mourned across Massachusetts. Last weekend, electronic signs on the Massachusetts Turnpike thanked Familia for his service.

Officials have lauded Familia for his courage and sacrifice.

“Somebody who jumps into the water attempting to save somebody else, a young boy, that’s about as high a calling as you can possibly imagine,” Baker said last week. “And a tragic consequence.”

Bagpipers marched in the procession during a funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel  "Manny" Familia.
Bagpipers marched in the procession during a funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
Family and friends departed a funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel  "Manny" Familia.
Family and friends departed a funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
State Police prepared for the funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel  "Manny" Familia.
State Police prepared for the funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
A woman listened to the  funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel  "Manny" Familia outside St. John’s Catholic Church.
A woman listened to the funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia outside St. John’s Catholic Church.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
A horse drawn carriage carried the casket during a funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel  "Manny" Familia.
A horse drawn carriage carried the casket during a funeral service for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel "Manny" Familia.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Camille Caldera can be reached at camille.caldera@globe.com.