By TIM KELLYGreg Browne was a hero. As such, he received an appropriate funeral mass Thursday in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia.Browne passed away in the evening hours of New Year’s Day following a heroic 18-month battle with cancer. He was 53.Browne saved lives as an Ocean City lifeguard and as a Philadelphia Fire Department paramedic. On Thursday, his own life was celebrated by family, friends, professional colleagues and a large group of brothers from the Philadelphia Fire Department.Brown is survived by wife Amy Brenholts, several cousins, a godchild, his devoted dogs and numerous friends.Approximately 250 people turned out for the services at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, with more than 100 of them representing the firefighters, paramedics and police.“To see how those guys took Greg in after a relatively brief time working as a paramedic says a lot about their connection with him, and it says a lot about Greg as well,” remarked Paul McCracken, a close friend and former partner on the Ocean City Beach Patrol.“Greg was the kind of guy who was inspirational to people without trying to be,” McCracken continued. “When he did anything, he did it with pride, respect and honor. A lot of the things he stood for might seem old fashioned nowadays, but he stayed loyal to his beliefs and to other people.”Ocean City’s Greg Browne, 53, passed away on New Year’s Day. (Photo courtesy of Browne family)Annie McCormick, a 6ABC reporter and co-worker of Brenholts, a photographer for the station, became such close friends with the couple, she thought of them as family. She met them both on one of her first assignments for the station, covering Superstorm Sandy.The station arranged for McCormick to stay with Browne and Brenholts in Ocean City while most people on the island obeyed the order to evacuate.During a heartfelt eulogy, McCormick recalled she was “terrified” at the prospect of covering this once-in-a-lifetime event, but Greg and Amy made it “hands down the best assignment of my life.”“Over the next 48 hours, I got to know Amy and Greg really well,” she said.McCormick, her photographer, Greg’s parents and the couple’s dogs “hunkered down” to ride out the storm and cover it for Action News.“The thing I remember about being with Greg and Amy was the laughter, the constant laughter,” McCormick said.McCormick said covering the assignment wasn’t work, it was an adventure, “because with Greg, life was an adventure. He lived his life following every passion that intrigued him. That was his secret to enjoying the ride.”Luke Stasky, right, and Chris Baldini were colleagues of Browne’s with the Philadelphia Fire Department.Browne’s intelligence, curiosity and willingness to try new things led him to a number of different careers. He earned his pilot’s license to fly banner planes over South Jersey beaches and then graduated and was licensed as a jet pilot for private clients and for USAirways.He was also well-known in South Jersey for his work as a reporter, weatherman, photographer and editor at the now-defunct news operation at TV 40 in Linwood.At age 48, Browne decided to embark on a new career as a Philadelphia Fire Department paramedic, requiring demanding coursework at Thomas Jefferson University Medical Center, and the rigorous training of the Philadelphia Fire Academy.Luke Stasky, a fellow paramedic and a much younger one, said he marveled at Greg’s tenacity to make it through the training and how strong Browne was physically.“I thought he was a much younger guy,” Stasky said. “He was physically imposing. When I heard what his age was, I just couldn’t believe it.”McCracken said becoming a firefighter was the career Greg had sought his whole life and finally found.“It was the perfect fit for Greg,” McCracken said. “It combined his technical skills from flying, his communication ability from the TV work and the physicality and desire to help people from his years as a lifeguard. But what satisfied him the most was the brotherhood he shared with those men and women.”Stasky was among a detail of comrades who saluted Greg in the street outside the church, followed by a group of bagpipers playing selections Greg had chosen.“The Axmen” motorcycle club joined with other groups escorting Greg Browne’s coffin from the church.The “Axmen,” a motorcycle club comprised of firefighter members, provided an escort, as did the columns of the firefighters themselves, the fire engines and other apparatus representing Medic 35, Ladder 5 and Engine 1 of the Fire Department and the bagpipers as a hearse carrying Browne’s coffin drove away from the church.“Thanks for your service and dedication to helping others,” Shanin Theis, another former Ocean City lifeguard partner, wrote on Greg’s Facebook page. “You were one of the good ones. Old school at heart, an athlete and a patriot. You’ll be missed.”MEMORIAL DONATIONS: Those wishing to make a donation in Greg Browne’s memory are asked to send contributions to the Local 22 Widows Fund, Philadelphia Firefighters and Paramedics Union Local 22, 415 North 5th Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19123. Philadelphia firefighters salute Greg Browne outside St. Patrick’s Church following his funeral mass.