Hamburg community mourns death of mother, 2 children in fire

Toys, flowers and crosses honor memory of the victims of a fatal fire in Hamburg.
Toys, flowers and crosses honor memory of the victims of a fatal fire in Hamburg. Submitted photo - David Reimer Sr.
Toys, flowers and crosses honor memory of the victims of a fatal fire in Hamburg.
Toys, flowers and crosses honor memory of the victims of a fatal fire in Hamburg. Submitted photo - David Reimer Sr.

Toys, flowers, Teddy Bears and other items lined South 4th Street out front of a Hamburg home honoring the memory of Jennifer Wilder, 27, and her two children, Gabriel Kalinofski, 5, and Julian Gust, 2.

Wilder and Tyler Gust’s home was destroyed by a fire that started late on Sept. 2. Fire crews battled the 3-alarm blaze until early morning of Sept. 3. What remains is a boarded-up burnt shell of a building that once housed the hopes and dreams of Tyler and Jennifer.

“Devastation, the whole community is heartbroken over the lives of Jennifer and her innocent and precious babies,” Jen and Derrick Loeb posted on the Northeast Berks News Facebook page.

“Such a horrible tragedy. Prayers sent for the families,” Buffie Lorah posted on the Northeast Berks News Facebook page.

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Deby Duz posted on Facebook, “This is very sad. My heart hurts badly for their family and friends.”

“We all love and will miss you Jen, you and your wonderful boys. This is in all hopes of having her and her boys rest peacefully together forever,” Sarah Vandevort, Gulfport, MS, posted in the GoFundMe page she created to raise funds for Jennifer Wilder and her family at https://www.gofundme.com/we-love-and-miss-you-jen-wilder3.

“Gabriel was only 5 years old when God called him home after a tragic fire that took the lives of him, his two-year-old brother Julian and his mother Jen who was six months pregnant at the time,” posted Britt and Mike Kalinofski, Bethel, on the GoFundMe page they created at https://www.gofundme.com/funeral-services-for-gabriel. “This was an unfortunate and very devastating time for our entire family. Everyone who knew Gabriel knew how much he loved to go fishing with his father Mark and was so excited to start kindergarten this past week. Gabriel wasn’t your average 5 year old, he was full of life and made his presence known in any room he entered. Gabriel had a smile and personality that would put the saddest person in a great mood. Gabriel was a natural born leader and loved helping everyone around him. Gabriel turned darkness into light and we will truly miss him. His life was taken so suddenly and unexpectedly, knowing he won’t be coming home again hurts so bad.”

A GoFundMe page has also been set up for Julian at https://www.gofundme.com/funeral-services-for-julian.

The American Legion - Behler-Hein Post 637 in Hamburg set up an account for Jennifer Wilder and family to help with funeral expenses. According to the Legion Facebook page, donations can be made at any VIST Bank or checks can be made out to the Jennifer Wilder Fund and be dropped off at the American Legion at 650 Franklin St., Hamburg.

According to the obituary for Jennifer posted on the website for Leibensperger Funeral Homes, Inc., Hamburg, http://www.leibenspergerfuneralhomes.com/, “Jennifer attended Hamburg Area High School. She received her CDL license from Berks Technical Institute and loved driving rig. Jennifer previously worked for Farm Fresh and last worked for RTC, Perry Twp. She attended St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church, Reading. As a younger person, Jennifer enjoyed playing softball and was known as Scoop. She enjoyed horseback riding, fishing and spending time with her family. Jennifer was an outgoing person and had a vibrant laugh.”

According to the obituary for Gabriel posted on the website for Leibensperger Funeral Homes, “he was the son of Mark T. Kalinofski, Tulpehocken Twp.; and the late Jennifer L. Wilder. Gabriel was in Kindergarten at Bethel Elementary School. He enjoyed fishing, playing sports, trains, making mud pies, and feeding his chickens; and loved his dog Elsa. Gabriel was a busy little boy and was excited to go to school and ride the school bus.”

According to the obituary for Julian posted on the website for Leibensperger Funeral Homes, “he was the son of Tyler R. Gust, Hamburg; and the late Jennifer L. Wilder. Julian was always happy and dancing. He loved playing with his brother and dogs Gannon and Molly and being with his family.”

A Mass of Christian Burial for Jennifer, Gabriel and Julian will be celebrated on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. from St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, 94 Walnut Road, Hamburg. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Hamburg. A visitation with the families will be held in the church 9 to 11 a.m.

About the Author

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Patriot and Managing Editor of Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at lmitchell@berksmontnews.com or follow Lisa on Twitter: @kutztownpatriot.