Battalion Chief Lawrence H. Goldberg passed away on Thursday, July 11, at the age of 50. A Baltimore native, he was a 28-year veteran of the Baltimore City Fire Dept. who began his firefighting and paramedic career with the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Co. in 1988. He ultimately became a chief officer and life member of the PVFC. Among his awards was the PVFC Firefighter of the Year Award for 2019.
The following are excerpts from a eulogy for Chief Goldberg delivered by his friend and colleague, PVFC Capt. Scott Goldstein, at Chief Goldberg’s funeral on July 16 at Sol Levinson & Bros.
While I am representing the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company, I was Larry’s friend outside of the station. I was his best man at their wedding (fortunately, Debbie finally moved past the bachelor party pictures), and spent countless hours teaching, debating and riding with him.
So, how does one define a man? Perhaps we start with numbers:
• 50 years old
• 1 devoted wife
• 2.5 wonderful kids
• 31 years in the fire service
• 20 years as an officer
• 30 years as a Paramedic.
• several thousand runs with Pikesville over a 30-year career
• Several thousand more with Baltimore
Nope, numbers don’t help here. Perhaps we use words:
- Son, brother, uncle, nephew, friend;
- Buffy’s owner.
If you don’t believe people and their pets look like each other, look at the pictures of Larry and Buffy. Both have that droopy, puppy-dog face; both cannot contain their excitement at the scent of food; and both of their bellies scrape the ground when they walked.
Many of you in the City Department have scars on their scalps from Larry’s climb up the chain of command. He does not apologize for them.
As an instructor, this is where we have the most impact on the fire service. How many lives have been saved by each Instructor who sends 20-30 disciples out into the world each semester?
Larry led four to five classes per year for 20-plus years. You do the math.
Call him whatever you want, just never call him late for dinner.
Perhaps we use imagery of Larry in his Chief Buggy chewing on his cigar. He rolls up. “Hey guys, what’s going on?”
As an incident commander, the sheer number of fires, shootings and rescues that occurred on his City watch was quite impressive. When he would walk into Pikesville Volunteers, the chances of a working incident increased exponentially. While on duty in the City, it was “Ol’ 2nd Alarm Larry.”
Now when he did participate as a crew member, it was equally as entertaining. Imagine you are. Lt. Mike Smith, conducting secondary search of a house fire, a house still well charged with smoke, you open the door the bathroom and look for the tub to look for victims, then your light catches some reflective trim, your light and eyes follow the image, and there is Larry, breathing from the air pack on the sink, and Larry sitting on the commode.
Mike is still in therapy. Thank goodness for positive-pressure breathing apparatus. …
So, what tidbit of information did Larry impart that got you out of a situation?
As much as I loved to torment him (and he made it so easy and fun), he loved to teach. And through his teaching, this man has impacted hundreds of lives of first-responders of all levels, ultimately saving thousands of lives.
And for many of us here, that is his legacy.
But for two of us in this room, his legacy is just you.
Micaela, the female personality of Larry. Thank God you look like Mom. Sometimes with you two, it was like watching magnets trying to connect. At times, it was hard for Larry to face himself, and he saw a lot of himself in you, and sometimes that made it hard to face you. He loved you dearly nonetheless.
Zach, apples don’t fall far from the tree. Within two years, you earned your EMT, FF, HazMat, Rescue, and cleared to ride all of our apparatus. Your dad also quickly trained and progressed through the ranks. But he allowed you to do it on your own (while hovering through the eyes of your instructors). You have started applying to fire department academies. Remember to continue training and higher and higher levels. Our job is beyond complex, and society’s demands and expectations require us to be on top of our game.
Your dad would tell students that being a professionalhas nothing to do with a paycheck. It has to do with how one performs.
And that was Larry, no matter which helmet he wore.
Malcolm, Zach’s brother from another mother, you adopted the Goldbergs as your extended family quitesome time ago. And with Larry’s guidance you ended up in our world. Honor him by continuing to train and stay involved.
As the best man at the wedding, I got to see how much Larry adored and lusted after you, Debbie. He worked tirelessly to provide for the family, booked many, many weekends on family camping trips.
Like many of us in the fire service, the service frequently takes up way too much time, usually at the most undesirable times. Please do not ever compare his sense of duty to service vs. his sense of duty to family.
Both were sacred to Larry.
And like the rest of us in the fire service, we sometimes made the difficult decision to jump into action and temporarily leave our family when the bells rang or pager sounded, and another family needed our life-saving skills more. That is selflessness at its best. And for that you should be proud.
Rest easy, Chubby. We got it from here.
Chief Goldberg is survived by his wife, Deborah A. Goldberg (nee Yale), children, Micaela E. Goldberg and Zachary A. Goldberg, siblings, Sharon (Steven) Solimini, Debbie (Mark) Palardy, and Patricia Lamond (Rafael Torres), parents Barbara N. Goldberg, and Marvin and Mary L. Goldberg, brothers and sisters-in-law, Jonathan (Suzanne) Yale, Catharine (George) Abid, and Carolyn (Robert) Monko, mother and father-in-law Marjorie and Robert Yale, and many loving nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews.
Contributions in his memory may be sent to the Baltimore City Fire Foundation, 401 E. Fayette St.m Baltimore, Md. 21202, or Fight Colorectal Cancer, 1414 Prince St, #204 Alexandria, Va. 22314.