Richmond firefighters remember life of chief who donated his organs

Richmond firefighters remember life of chief who donated his organs
Posted at 11:18 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-25 15:58:04-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In his 31 years working for the Richmond Fire Department, Battalion Chief Kurt Gran said he's known Battalion Chief Bobby Duffus for more than 15.

"I was lucky enough to be a lieutenant and he was my battalion chief at the time," said Chief Gran.

He said in that time, his boss, became more like a brother.

"I would come to work or he would come in, and I would say, 'You didn’t have anybody mark off today!' And he would say, 'That’s because I breed a work environment of enthusiasm, Kurt,'" Chief Gran said with a laugh. "So, he was always making jokes. But he was very passionate about his job."

Chief Gran said the two especially forged a bond when Chief Duffus went through a situation in his life that Gran could relate to.

"We would just go behind the firehouse and walk for an hour and walk four miles a day together and just talk for the whole hour," said Gran.

But he said no matter what they talked about, every day, Chief Duffus would end the conversation talking about his daughter.

"And how much he loved her," Chief Gran said.

A friend, leader, and mentor to many, Chief Duffus spent decades with the Richmond Fire Department saving lives. But on Sunday, he lost his own.

"It’s been difficult for all of us," Chief Gran said.

Chief Duffus was scheduled for surgery on Friday at Chippenham Hospital for an off-duty injury, according to the department, but suffered a medical emergency, passing Sunday night.

On Monday, Gran was among Chief Duffus' family, loved ones, and other members of the fire department, to gather outside Chippenham Hospital. They joined representatives with LifeNetHealth to raise a "Donate Life" flag outside the hospital in his honor.

"And then the next day when he was taken to the operating room for the donation to do the organs, they call it the 'Walk of Honor,'" said Chief Gran. "And a bunch of people line the hallway that he was rolled through into the operating room and I was there for that as well."

Chief Gran said he wasn't surprised his friend was still saving lives, even in death.

"It just goes to show what kind of person he was," Chief Gran said. "If I can be half the chief he was, I'll be a good person."

A funeral for Chief Duffus was set to be held next week.

Executive Vice President of LifeNet Health, Doug Wilson, sent the following statement in regards to Chief Duffus' organ donation.

We are honored to support Battalion Chief Duffus’s legacy through the ultimate gift of donation. Our hearts go out to the Richmond community and to his family, friends and fellow first responders. His selfless decision to be an organ and tissue donor will change countless lives for the better – including both patients and their loved ones. It is a privilege to be part of this extraordinary story that highlights how donation offers hope to grieving families and to recipients awaiting a second chance for life.