Remembering Former Fire Chief Larry Bushey

32-Year Firefighter Passes Away

DULUTH, Minn.- Duluth Fire Department is remembering the life of longtime former Fire Chief Larry Bushey.

He passed away Friday at St. Luke’s Hospital, at the age of 85.

His visitation will take place Tuesday from 5pm-7pm at Dougherty Funeral Home. He will be buried in Forest Hill Cemetery.

There are many remarkable things about Lawrence Bushey, or Larry as he was more commonly known.

He served in the Korean War, was born, raised, educated, and married all in Duluth, and he moved through the ranks of the Fire Department to become Fire Chief.

But his son Brad says what he was most proud of, was his family.

“He was a great man,” said Brad, through tears. “He was dedicated to the Duluth Fire Department, and also he was dedicated to his family and his grandkids.”

Brad Bushey, a firefighter himself, reflects on his father Larry’s life on the Duluth Fire Department.

An important chapter in his life.

“I know his last days made him very emotional when he retired. It was a big chunk of his life.”

But what many didn’t see, was Larry’s family, his children he’d come home to.

They decided to follow in his footsteps.

Brad’s brother, Bryan, served on the Department for 32 years, just like his dad. He was even promoted to Interim Chief in 2015.

“Oh I looked up to my dad tremendously as a role model,” Brad said. “It was inherent in me and my drive was to follow in his footsteps and make him proud.”

“Although he’s proud of everybody, and everybody’s careers throughout our whole entire family.”

In his 3 decades of service, Larry protected Duluth from the largest infernos, like the Kolar Dealership fire in 1984.

But his life was on the line everyday, in even the most benign places.

“There was one story he told me, he was up in an attic, and the attic flashed. And he said that was one of the scariest times of his life. He wasn’t sure if him and his partner were gonna make it out,” said Brad.

“You just, you know, don’t know in this business when that day is going to come.”

For Larry, that day had nothing to do with his job.

It came 26 years after he retired, at St. Luke’s Hospital, of natural causes.

“It was a tremendous loss, of a wonderful person who was very special, in all our lives,” his son said.

But while he retired, he never lost contact with his fellow firefighters.

“It always made him smile: he always would ask me ‘how’s it going down at the fire department?’ And we’d talk, and he just like to keep tabs on the guys and how things were going.”

A firefighter, and family man, to the end.

“The most, the one thing that made him smile was when he had company, and when he had his grandkids and his family around.”

“That was the thing that he enjoyed most his entire life.”

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